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Extra-Curricular Activities for a 12 year old optional???

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 
I have not posted on this board since my nursing days. Oh, those were the days.

My DS is 12 and in 6th grade. We live in a suburban community where most kids are over scheduled and do a lot of extra-curricular stuff. I try not to over-schedule and let my kids pursue their own interests. My 12 year-old has never been into sports. He plays the drums. He takes one drum lesson per week (it's a 30 minute lesson). That's it. Nothing else. At the beginning of the school year, DH told him he has to pick ONE extra-curricular activity. There is a jazz band at school and he started Jazz Band, playing the drums.

Now he says he wants to quit. He complains every week that he doesn't want to go. "Why do I have to?" He carries on and on.

I am at a loss. I do not know if I "force" him to continue because we told him he has to do something. It seems sort of arbitrary to force him to continue doing something he really doesn't want to do. On the other hand, it seems like he doesn't want to do ANYTHING in his adolescent state. It is not acceptable to me for him to sit around and watch TV every single day after school. (Given a choice, that is what he would do). This is totally against my AP parenting style, but now that he is entering the teenage years, I am much less clear than I used to be.

BTW, he is not doing well in school. Doesn't complete homework, bad grades, very unorganized.............I think I would feel better if he was more successful right now and let it go, but I really don't know what to do.

ANY thoughts would be so appreciated.
post #2 of 70
I've got the opposite situation. My 12 year old wants to do everything, and she gets frustrated that there are so many conflicts. Her love is music--playing the violin and chorus, but she'd also like to join swim team and do track and field.

TV and other non-homework related screen time isn't an option for my kids on weeknights, so if they wanted to do nothing, they'd have to entertain themselves.

Personally, I'd insist he did at least one activity besides taking drum lessons. If he joined the jazz band, I'd insist he finish out the season, particularly if it's competitive (requires an audition) because he kept another kid out. If he didn't want to sign on for another season, I'd make sure he did something else.

Dh is a high school teacher, and in his experience (and there's research to back this up) the kids who are more involved tend to do better in school. Now that might be because more academically oriented kids are drawn to activities, but it also might be that being involved teaches them the value of organization and practice.
post #3 of 70
So... what DOES he do except for his 30 minute drum lesson each week?
post #4 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by JJMama View Post
Now he says he wants to quit. He complains every week that he doesn't want to go. "Why do I have to?" He carries on and on.
Ask him what he wants to do instead.

I feel that teens need to be involved in something that is fun for them, but I'm really flexiable with my kids on what that is. May be Jazz band just isn't his thing. He's done it for a few months, he's given it a try. What would he like to do instead? If the point is to do something fun and interesting and this isn't it for him, what would be?

<<Dh is a high school teacher, and in his experience (and there's research to back this up) the kids who are more involved tend to do better in school. Now that might be because more academically oriented kids are drawn to activities, but it also might be that being involved teaches them the value of organization and practice. >>

yes, and since more people drown when ice cream sales are high, eating ice cream causes drowning!

Kids who are more invovled tend to be the kids who naturally push themselves more and have more organized, supportive families. So of course they are tend to also do well at schol. I'm not convinced that making your kids stick with something they don't like will help them in school.

BTW, I have one of each -- one kid in everything and the other kid in exactly one activity because that is required in our family, and she's changing acitivities because she decided she didn't like the last one. She mostly wants to watch NCIS and read vampire novels.

Some how, I thought that since we practiced APing we would never have this phase.
post #5 of 70
What was the commitment when he joined the Jazz Band? A term, a year?

In answer to "Why do I have to go?" you can say something like "Because you made a commitment to join".

So, tell him he has to stick it out until the end of term (this month?) or the end of the school year (June?) - 6 more months.

My son is 11 & has 2 after-school activities & home-work.
post #6 of 70
I have to agree wrt the length of commitment. Especially when it's a group activity - it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the group to simply drop in the middle. A "fair" requirement, to me, would be that he has to stick with it until after whatever concert they are currently preparing for.

In terms of extracurriculars and requiring them... I do think that extracurriculars are a good way for kids to expand their horizons a bit, stretch themselves by trying new things, having something different in their lives, expanding their social circle. And, in general, I think a busy kid is a kid without time to get into too much trouble. But it sometimes takes a few tries to find one that they really love.

My oldest tends to prefer more solitary pursuits - he'd be perfectly happy to spend all his time with a book or writing music. I've encouraged him to take those interests and build on them. So he joined Drama club and works on the school's Literary magazine. Both of which he heartily enjoys.

My youngest has never had to be pushed to join stuff. She prefers to be 100% busy, 100% of the time. She plays field hockey year round (with a short break for lacrosse in spring), is in a bunch of groups/clubs at school, and is auditioning for her home school's musical. The busier she is, the happier she is.

My only rule is that, once they join, they need to stick with it until a logical stopping point.
post #7 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

yes, and since more people drown when ice cream sales are high, eating ice cream causes drowning!

Kids who are more invovled tend to be the kids who naturally push themselves more and have more organized, supportive families. So of course they are tend to also do well at schol. I'm not convinced that making your kids stick with something they don't like will help them in school.
For music, anyway, it may be a bit more than that. There is some research that shows that music does help teach kids the importance of commitment, persistence and practice, because your perfomance doesn't improve without it. There is also a strong correlation between participation in music and mathematics, and some studies have shown academic achievement improves when kids are given music education.
post #8 of 70
<< On the other hand, it seems like he doesn't want to do ANYTHING in his adolescent state. It is not acceptable to me for him to sit around and watch TV every single day after school.>>

What does he like do to besides tv/computer/gaming? Does he get together with friends? Ride his bike? Build model cars? Practice his drum? Care for a pet? Help around the house/yard?

Does he seem generally happy with his life? Does he have friends?

I'm asking because I started wondering today if rather than this really being about jazz band, he is depressed. I don't think the cure for depression is parents forcing kids to be in activities they don't want to be.

For the record, taking a lesson each week and practicing each day would meet the criteria at our house.


Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
For music, anyway, it may be a bit more than that.
Agreed. However, it's quite a leap to go from that to say that a parent forcing a child to stay in an activity they dislike month after month is in the child's best interest.

Unless he kept someone else out by joining, I don't see why he has to stay in for a whole year. Three months is long enough to figure out if you like something or not. Between school and homework, my kids are committed more than 40 hours a week, so I don't feel they need anything on top of that to "learn to stick with things."
post #9 of 70
He should be involved in finding activities that appeal to him. It's frustrating if nothing seems to interest him.

What kind of sports has he tried in the past? If they were all team sports (soccer, baseball etc.), perhaps he might like something more individual - swimming or martial arts.

What about a different kind of music experience - drum circle instead of jazz band? Japanese or African drumming?

Or maybe sound recording courses to learn how to mix tracks and produce a CD.

Drama groups are often great for teens. They're often filled with interesting kids who are pretty tolerant of differences.

Animation classes, film schools (make a movie), photography courses....

Cooking class? If he doesn't want to join a class, maybe you could get him cooking at home. Tell him he's responsible for 1 or 2 meals per week, including grocery shopping for them. Give him a couple of cookbooks for cooking basics or children/teens. There are lots in the bookstores or libraries.

Are there other activities at home that he could take on? If he doesn't want to participate in extra-curriculars, what can he do at home besides sitting in front of the t.v?
post #10 of 70
My 10yo has decided not to participate in any extracurriculars this year. He's played sports and been involved in clubs in the past, but he's just not interested in that anymore. He does attend school, he does well in school and is involved in a few extra (although not after-school) activities, such as school ambassadors and safety patrol.

I think that what he's doing is enough. My DS is generally happy, does plenty of socializing with friends during school and sometimes outside of school, and has independent interests (reading, drawing, writing) that don't necessarily lend themselves well to group activities.
post #11 of 70
This is coming from somone who was forced to do activites as a child/teen. I hated it. I much preferred my own time - probably what your call 'doing nothing'. When in reality I loved to read, I loved my alone time to think, let my thoughts just wander, but mostly read. Video games were also just making it into most homes during my high school years and I spent alot of time with Mario etc. But I hated being forced to join high school clubs etc. They just were NOT my thing. Heck school wasnt my thing. If I had known about homeschooling and all the different alternative learning choices life would have been soooooo much easier 20-25 years ago..

My ds-9 isn't much of a activity taker either. He will do a 1-2x class, or an 'event' type thing. Sports are out for him, anything with a large group is a definate no go. He does like art type things. And I do give him huge credit (and myself) for taking a 6 wks honors class at the univeristy for gifted kids. He does want to take the next session. (but I dont count that since its really school, but on saturday)

I guess what I'm trying to say, is dont force your child to do something. By the time they are 12 they pretty much know what they want to do. By all means, you can present options to him, make him aware of classes that may appeal to him, activites at the library, etc.... or if the family volunteers he should go etc but requiring him to take a class, do band etc... nope.
post #12 of 70
I would talk to the band director and find out some more info. If he's the only drummer in the jazz band, if he quits, the rest of the group may be unable to play. I played in jazz band in school, the drummer is a necessity for the band. You can lose a trombonist or a trumpet or two, but if you don't have a drummer, its hard to have a band. At the very least he needs to give fair warning. If there's no other drummer in the band, he should stay until an alternate can be found. At the very least, you should have a discussion about how his choice not to participate is going to effect all of his bandmates who need him there to play.
post #13 of 70
You've gotten great advice. I am definitely in the "check with the teacher, see if there is something going on, ask him why he doesn't want to continue, and then make him go to a logical stopping point". It's true, it isn't fair to the others in the group to lose their drummer until they can find another. He's old enough to recognize the responsibility he has to others. This is also a lesson for him and you. Maybe he's not such a group-thing kind of guy.

We also "make" our kids take at least one activity during the year, two during the summer. One of the summer activities has to be some sort of regular volunteering.

They get to pick the activity, though, and we are lucky to live in a community that has a great Arts Center, Nature Center, and Rec Center, all of which offer classes for kids and adults. Some classes one or the other has taken in the past: film making, computer video game programming, engineering for kids, fencing, ballet, theater, modern dance, soccer, yoga for kids, gothic/victorian novel reading club, wilderness survival, archery, sculpture, clay projects, and costume making.

The girls also take music classes, but that is really their own choice.

If he is unsure of an activity, see what your local rec center, library, or arts center offers for classes. Check with any local museums (science, art, history) and the local library. Some of those classes are only one weekend, or a couple of class sessions long, and so they wouldn't be the months-long or year-long commitment he might later regret and dislike.
post #14 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by lorijds View Post
Some of those classes are only one weekend, or a couple of class sessions long, and so they wouldn't be the months-long or year-long commitment he might later regret and dislike.
I like classes like that.

I think that making a child stick something out for a year that they were unsure of trying in the first place is a really bad idea because I think it could easily make them less likely to try anything new, ever again. With my DD who isn't big on acitvities, we agree ahead of time how long is a reasonable try-out period for an acitivity -- how many weeks she is going to give something a chance before decides if she likes it or not.

And for kids who don't excell at school, activities away from school might be more appealing. Kids at school tend to get stuck with how other see them, but getting out in a different environment with different people can give them an escape from that.
post #15 of 70
sometimes it can be so hard to know what the right thing to do is! i think it's important that kids pursue an extra curricular activity - something that makes them feel good and can take pride in, something that's just for them (if that makes any sense).

my kids are all in piano lessons and the boys are in tae kwon do, and the girls are in dance. when my dd was 12, she HATED piano. HATED it. i made her stick out the year, and now, 4 years later, she is playing the piano at her sister's junior 4 ballet class and wants to pursue music at a post-secondary degree. she loves it and practices for hours a day. this, from a kid who begged me to quit for a year. i'm so glad we hung in there.

at the time though, i wasn't sure if "forcing" her to take piano was the right thing. looking back, she was going through a lot of internal turmoil and i think it reflected in everything. we can look back on that experience and see how helpful it was for her to persevere and keep trying, even when she didn't want to. sometimes life is just like that, you keep plugging forward, trusting that at the end of the harder times, things will be better ...

that being said, she wanted to drop some ballet classes this year, and i was fine with that. she had other interests she was actively pursuing, and she was still being physically active in other ways. i guess it's a balance in trying to meet the best interests of your childs and your values as a parent.

good luck
post #16 of 70
I wonder how those parents who don't think kids should HAVE to do an extracurricular feel about jobs when they hit 16/17? Should their teen HAVE to work?
post #17 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
I'm asking because I started wondering today if rather than this really being about jazz band, he is depressed. I don't think the cure for depression is parents forcing kids to be in activities they don't want to be.
I was thinking the same thing.

From another perspective - I was depressed in high school (never diagnosed, because I never talked about it. Nobody in authority knew about the razor blade tic tac toe game on my wrist, under my watch. Nobody in authority - and only a couple of friends - knew about the time I took about half the painkillers (aspirin, Tylenol and 292s) in the medicine cupboard. I'm sure everyone knew I had hormonal issues - I had a hair trigger temper and became violent very easily at certain times in my cycle - but I think the depression slipped under everyone's radar.

I'd have gone whacko if my parents had tried to make me take an extra curricular activity. I'd have ended up doing exactly what I did in school - showing up. Nothing else. If it was anything that called attention to me (eg. drama or choir), I wouldn't even have done that.

I have a son who's really into extracurricular stuff. He's a very happy, well adjusted kid, and the extra curriculars are a sign of that. But, I don't think activities are something that can be prescribed to make a kid more adjusted or make him/her do better in school or whatever (not saying you're doing that, OP). I find the idea of pushing someone to do something they don't want to do, when that something is supposedly a recreational kind of activity, really, really weird.
post #18 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
I wonder how those parents who don't think kids should HAVE to do an extracurricular feel about jobs when they hit 16/17? Should their teen HAVE to work?
What does one have to do with the other?

In my case, as someone who finds the idea of requiring extra-curricular activities absolutely mind-boggling, I don't require ds1 to have a job. However, he gets a fixed allowance of $20.00/week. If he wants more than that, he's going to have to earn it.
post #19 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
For music, anyway, it may be a bit more than that. There is some research that shows that music does help teach kids the importance of commitment, persistence and practice, because your perfomance doesn't improve without it. There is also a strong correlation between participation in music and mathematics, and some studies have shown academic achievement improves when kids are given music education.
I'm sure that's true. But, none of that means that requiring a kid to take music is going to have that effect. If I'd been required to take choir, for instance, I'd have skipped - every single time. There was absolutely nothing in this world that could have made me stand up and sing in front of other people. I did drama (had to take an "arts" course) in the first half of 8th grade. If it had been the second half, I'd have cut the entire semester, and I only took it because it seemed the least painful of the four options (art, choir, band and drama). If a kid doesn't care whether their performance improves, then taking music isn't going to do much.
post #20 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
I wonder how those parents who don't think kids should HAVE to do an extracurricular feel about jobs when they hit 16/17? Should their teen HAVE to work?
I don't think the two are related at all. Extracurricular activities are about developing talents, socializing and having fun.

I do want my kids to do extracurricular activities. Fortunately, it's not a problem getting them interested.

I don't want my kids having jobs during the school year. Summer vacations, winter break, sure, but in my book school is their job until they are done with college.
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