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How do you decide what activities your child should do?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I don't want to give my specific case in this situation, because I'm looking to see how others think on the subject, rather than just specific advice. I'm wondering how you decide or guide your child in what extra activities they do outside of school? Especially for a child who is happy in the activity(ies) they are already doing, but who says they want to do everything else? How do you choose or help them choose? What attributes are important to you?

I'd love to hear what kinds of activities your kids do and the reason those were the ones chosen.
post #2 of 34
My DD is only in kinde, so we haven't had a lot of these decisions yet. My general philosophy is 1 activity at a time based on 1) limited time, and 2) limited budget.

At one point she was in gymnastics on Sat and swimming lessons on Sun, and it darn near did us in.

Full disclosure, I FT WOHM and am a solo parent.
post #3 of 34
One activity at a time for us too.
That leaves time for hanging out, going to the park, the occasional playdate.
There is a family in our neighborhood that has 4 kids. Each child does scouts, a musical instrument, Irish dancing, and at least 1 sport. Makes my head spin, but it works for them.
post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 
When you say you do one activity at a time, are the activities seasonal so your child does more than one during the year?
post #5 of 34
We do one organized fee-based activity at a time or season. DD is in ballet classes (since Sept) but she isn't too interested in it now as soccer is about to start in our city (April). So we gave her a choice as to which one she would prefer to do and she picked soccer. Since we have already paid for the ballet classes till June, we will lose one month's fee by ending it this month. Which we are not happy about but it is a lesson learned for dh and I about committing to a full year's activity fee for a child her age. We could make her attend ballet classes until the end of June but she wouldn't be happy and I think 2 activities (both on Saturdays) would be too much for her on top of preschool.

Also, dd is taking piano lessons from a friend's daughter. It is mostly playing with the keys and making noise. I don't count that as an activity as the whole family goes over as a playdate.
post #6 of 34
We try to do one at a time. My oldest has only done t-ball and jr golf so far. Most of the school related stuff is for older kids, but he did really enjoy those.
post #7 of 34
We do one activity at a time with ours. I did let my DD do basketball on top of dance class but it was "Santa" who signed her up and she would of been tagging along anyways since her brother was also doing it (and it was only $30 to sign her up also).

My DD is on her third year of doing dance. MY DS1 did soccer last spring and fall, and did basketball this winter. He has decided against spring soccer this year. Once DD finishes up with dance in early May and I am going to put both her and DS1 in swim lesson. DS2 has been doing gymnastics since October but decided starting the next session at the Y he wants to try swimming so I am going to let him.

As far as what to choose, I let them make the decision while guiding their options (aka. we can not afford something like hockey).
post #8 of 34
I do 2 at a time, actually, for 2 reasons. One is that we have no backyard, a small apartment, and its too cold for the playground in the winter so I want to make sure DD has enough places to burn off energy. We rotate the activities and try to keep 1 existing 1 and 1 new one; or 2 existing ones if she loves them.

Some are things DD asked to do bc friends were doing them, like Yoga, some are things she asked to do bc she likes them such as dance/ballet, some are things I felt she should do for developmental reasons like gymnastics we started when she couldn't jump with both feet, skip, a couple other physical milestones and I felt the class would encourage those skills (it did, and she loves it). Swimming we started bc DH feels she needs to learn to swim bc we'll be visiting family most of the summer on a lake.

I ask what she's interested in and we talk about the different options. I have reasons why she should try something now (like the swimming) as opposed to later unless she really desperately does not want to do it. We do gymnastics in the fall bc in the winter/spring I dread the snowy, cold walk by the water to get there. We do dance regularly bc her nanny teaches it so it's a comfortable place and teacher and kids; and it's economical. So this school year, we do/have done: Gymnastics, General Dance, Ballet, Swimming, and Yoga. Right now it's a combo swim/ballet class (they do ballet, then go to the pool) and a Yoga class.
post #9 of 34
Hmm...I don't have a hard and fast rule. DS is also a kid who is eager to try everything. He's pretty athletic, so we tend to do at least two organized sports per year (it was soccer in the fall and now baseball in the spring). Baseball is one afternoon practice and games on Saturdays. In addition to that, he's in swim lessons, although that's not so much his choice but, IMO, a necessity because we live in Southern California and there are pools everywhere.

In addition to that, he takes a once-a-week hip-hop class.

He's in pre-K four hours a day. Maybe once he's in school all day with homework, this would feel like too much, but right now it doesn't. He's a very extroverted, high-energy kid, so that also plays into it.

post #10 of 34


Edited by RainCoastMama - 2/26/14 at 9:41pm
post #11 of 34
Partly budget, partly what they are interested, and mainly what is going to be good for our family.

For example, no way will my boys be playing soccer. Not the way it's done around here, anyway. Several practices per week and games every Saturday. (Plus the kids already have Hebrew school on Saturday). It would mean giving up several dinners per week as a family and destroy any opportunity to do the things we like on the weekends. That whole mindset is completely antithetical to the way we want to live.

My kids do a session of swimming lessons here and there. Ds1 takes African drumming once/week and ds2 has a gymnastic class once a week. That's plenty for us during the school year.
post #12 of 34
Originally Posted by mightymoo View Post
When you say you do one activity at a time, are the activities seasonal so your child does more than one during the year?
yes, one activity at a time, but changing throughout the year.

spring: soccer
summer: swimming
fall: soccer (weird, but that is how our municipality does it).
winter: used to be skating, but they wanted, respectively, indoor soccer & swimming.
post #13 of 34
I'd love to get Alivia in piano or dance. But we don't have a piano, and I don't want her to end up with a bad body image (or the added expense of outfits for recitals) of dance. I think she may be interested in karate as well.

I think I'm going to talk to the mom of one of her best friends, and see if she would be interested in getting the girls in the same class of ... something.

I really don't know.
post #14 of 34
4yo DS is slow to warm up to new people and experiences, and would happily stay home all the time. I select activities that I think will not be overwhelming to him, and that will be budget-friendly.

DS goes to preschool 3 hours a day, which he loves. He attends Awana Cubbies on the weekend (sort of a "Church Scouts" program) and has also taken gymnastics classes. He will start soccer in the spring, which I think he will like not because he has any particular interest in soccer itself, but because one of his best friends will be on the team.

Once he starts kindy, I can't imagine doing more than one activity at a time.
post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 
Okay, so here is our situation. DD attends Karate right now. She is enrolled 'full-time' which means unlimited classes, but this is really supposed to be like 2 classes a week, versus 'part-time' which is just 1 (but is about 75% the cost). She loves it. She was very shy and hesitant to try any activities before starting karate a year ago - we gave it a try because her friends went there and I thought she might be more willing to go to a class with her friends. I was right and soon and it only took a couple classes and she was hooked. the school is amazing, the classes are a great mix of physical activity (and just fun games which help teach hand & eye coordination) and teaching the martial arts, but they also teach greater values which aren't necessarily taught in school. They emphasize respect, kindness, etc. They talk about stranger danger all the time. I love how these classes are shaping her as a person, and she loves them too. We generally go 2 days a week after school (she is in half-day afternoon kindergarten), but DD often begs me to stay for a second class, so sometimes its as many as 4 classes a week. She is not any more tired after 2 classes and school and asks every other day of the week if today is a karate day. Since Karate doesn't have seasons or sessions its ongoing.

But she also asks about other activities. She asked me today when she was going to get to take ice skating lessons, she's asked about gymnastics and she did soccer (1 day a week - 90 min on sat) in the fall and wanted to sign up again in the spring. In addition, she hasn't yet learned to swim (very hesitant to get her face wet), but I'd like her too. Also, she seems to have a natural musical talent and my family is all over me about when we are going to get her music lessons (I'd like to get them for her too - she can play simple tunes on my moms piano with absolutely no instruction).

Attending 2 karate classes a week and soccer on Saturday did not seem to be too much for her - she'd probably be fine with an activity every day. Of course for me its much harder, I have to drag her little brother to any class taught during the week, and he isn't super keen on going, at the same time, he isn't interested yet in participating in anything either. And of course cost is a factor, the karate is not cheap, soccer is fairly cheap, but we can't spend tons of money on this stuff.

So I'm just torn on what to do for her. She's very athletic and has plenty of endurance and excitement for these activities. I love what karate does for her and don't want to drop it, so I'm just trying to get a feel for how to choose between them. She wants to do all of them and I know that forcing a choice out of her would probably result in a random one, or just abandoning the old activities so she can try the new. The other problem is many of these activities, like soccer require significant advance registration, soccer doesn't start until April, but I paid the registration in November.

Anyway, these are the things I'm thinking about and I just wanted to see how others viewed the whole thing.
post #16 of 34
In your situation, I wouldn't sign up for anything but karate at this time.

I'd only do soccer if she'd agree to drop karate and it sounds like she probably would stick with karate if given the choice.

Skating and swimming are two things that can normally be taught by a parent so I'd try and make it a habit of going to the pool and the rink regularly. Should be enough to develop some skill at both (or at least a certain level of comfort that would allow her to pick it up quickly when she's older).

Music, I'm not sure. Personally, I wouldn't want to combine it with something that's taking as much of your time as karate is. It would be fine with something that's a once a week thing. Realistically with music, the daily practice is what makes it challenging time-wise.
post #17 of 34
Our general rule of thumb is one sport and one "other" activity at a time. Sports can't be more than twice a week (one weekday, one weekend) on a regular basis and the "other" needs to be no more than twice a month. Given that both DH and I WOHM, this is already a stretch to balance with the need for family time and the ability of our nanny to juggle schedules. For seasonal sports, once the season is over they can choose something else. And since they were late preschool age they had to finish a session of something they had wanted to sign up for before they could change. Things we can't afford or don't agree with philosophically are automatic "no" but with an explanation of why.

Since they were about 3 YOs both kids had opinions about what they wanted to do. DS a little less so, but if we asked "would you like to do X?" about some things we thought might be fun he was able to decide yes or no. At that age we tried to give them exposure to sports we thought they might enjoy and be good at, and ones that were popular in the area so they could figure out if they liked them. So both kids tried soccer and didn't like it. DS played little league for a while but this year decided it wasn't enough fun to go back. DD tried gymnastics and loved it, has stayed with it. During the summer between ages 3 and 6 they had to take swimming lessons -- it was one of the few things that wasn't optional.

Lots of things they want to try and ask for get pushed to summer camp since they spend 10 weeks at various daycamps during the summer and this gives them a 1-week taste of a lot of different options.
post #18 of 34
I would let her do both karate and soccer if that's what she wants, it doesn't seem like an awful lot to me, but then I am coming from the perspective of having two very active older kids. I couldn't possibly restrict the amount of time my kids do their sports as they are both totally into them. My DD trains (bouldering/rockclimbing) up to four times a week. DS right now only has one soccer training and one rugby training a week, and plays two games of indoor soccer on a Saturday. Training days will increase once outdoor soccer season starts next month. Both DH and I are happy to invest time, money and energy into their activities if that is what they want.
post #19 of 34
For dd, it's going to be that she can do something musical/arty and a sport. I might add in piano, but definitely no more than 3 things. That's enough. Right now, she's 4 1/2 and doing ballet (=arty). She wants to play soccer, t-ball, basketball, take piano.

For ds, it's whatever he wants to do, because the child won't do anything!
post #20 of 34
The only activity I insist my kids do is swimming classes, partly because it contributes to their safety around water and because it opens up so many other water sports as they get older. They each have one other hobby, their choice, but I try hard to keep the weekends free for family and get their activities "out of the way" during the school week.

Edited to add that my 6 year old goes horse riding and my five year old takes ballet and tap, (1 hour dance class) per week.
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