No rest for the Kid: Extra curricular shit

No rest for the kid

Sunday nights are the worst. As you look at your schedule for the week you are already exhausted just thinking about all the things you have to do. Monday is a math’s class followed by an hour of ballet, Tuesday is Karate, Wednesday is a Piano lesson followed by a home visit from the English tutor, Thursday is drama and singing and Friday is swimming and gymnastics. Weekends are the same if not worse. There is no nice lay in on a Saturday as it’s up and out at 8am for three hours of football, then onto swimming to practice for the next badge and then there is just enough time to squeeze in the French class in the afternoon. How about Sunday? Sunday is the day to finish off homework for school and the math’s class. All this is on top of putting in a six hour day, five days a week. There really is no rest for a 9 year old!

After school activities can be both enriching and enjoyable, but how many is too many? The above example isn’t made up for the purposes of this blog; it’s actually the extra curricular timetable of a nine-year-old girl who lives next door.

Personally, a schedule like that would be far too much for me as an adult. Actually, just the organizing and providing the taxi service would be far too much for me as a parent, so do you know what extra curricular activities my children do? Absolutely nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no stranger to sitting on a hard chair in a stiflingly hot waiting area while my child prodigy (or not, as it turned out) spent hours on a Saturday morning learning the violin, or stood at the side of a football pitch, freezing cold and knackered at 7am on a Sunday morning. Every class you can name, my did it all. Extra math’s lessons, a musical theatre class and even a circus skills workshop, I paid for all of them. To be fair, the circus one only lasted a term as he somehow managed to break his arm while juggling, but the others went on for years.

From the ages of 5-9, my son had a schedule that would have reduced most parents to a quivering wreck but the difference was that he was home educated at the time. So in my view, the classes were his ‘school’, all the bits like music lessons and French that I couldn’t provide. It worked really well for him, but I always wondered how did children who did all the same activities as him while having to get up and go to school cope?

I honestly don’t think I could do six hours at work and then go out and do classes every night of the week, yet this is what some children do. I am sure that most children love the classes they go to (apart from the extra math’s or English lessons, I have never yet met a child who is enthuses over those) but I sometimes wonder if doing so many classes is more of a hindrance in the long run.

With so many extra curricular activities to choose from these days, it’s a wonder some children ever have the time to sit still – unless of course, you count their yoga class. There seems to be the need these days to constantly keep our children stimulated and busy. Right from birth you are told about baby massage classes, baby yoga, signing and baby swimming. By the time they are toddlers there are music classes, gym classes, football tots and baby ballet. It seems that you could have your child in enrolled five or more classes a week from birth to the teenage years if you wished.

If your child enjoys al the extra curricular activities they do that’s fantastic, but sometimes there has to be a balance between being constantly busy and just being. When children are left to their on devices or – heaven forbid – allowed to be bored, they can think up the most amazing fantasy games or read, draw or paint – anything that takes their fancy. As parents we need to learn to relax more and to not micro manage every second of our children’s lives.

I am sure we all reminisce about the days where we played on our bikes all summer long only coming home for dinner. I agree that the world is a different place now, so there are not many parents willing to let their children roam free as previous generations did, however, what happened to children just being bored and having to make up something to do?

Oh and here’s the thing about my son: I estimate that I spent about ten grand on music lessons and music exams in piano and guitar over the years. He’s not a concert pianist or a budding rock star. He’s also not a clown, a gymnast, fluent in French and is still just below average at maths, despite all the expensive classes and tutoring. He lost interest in most of the classes he did as a young child and I can safely say that not doing all those lessons wouldn’t have hindered him one bit and who knows, maybe if he’d have been bored enough, he may have actually learned his times tables.

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