Originally Posted by Juuulie
Funny, I went through 180 degrees reading this thread. On the one hand I am very much in favor of giving kids down time and leaving them to their own devices. My three have a LOT of time during the week when they have no structured activities, and no screen time allowed. Benign neglect is pretty much my parenting motto.
On the other hand, all three play musical instruments and we spend a ridiculous amount of time and money on private lessons, group lessons, orchestra, summer programs, etc. This isn't even optional for them. They practice every day just like they brush their teeth every day. In fact practicing actually takes precedence over schoolwork. That's how important I think it is. I probably sound like a horrendous stage mom, but the fact is, music does build character. It teaches perseverance, self-discipline, teamwork, humility, leadership skills, patience... oh and incidentally you learn to play an instrument.
So... I guess it depends on the activity in question. I don't see a lot of value in pushing kids to participate in an activity just for the sake of "keeping them busy." But if it's something you find personally meaningful, something that you yourself are prepared to invest time and money in, something that has lifelong benefits, then yes I think it is not wrong to require your kids to do it.
As great as music is, I don't personally feel it should usurp schoolwork, unless a child is an absolute prodigy (and even then, education is important.).
My boy took piano lessons early on, then decided to drop them as he wasn't that into it. It was only when he got into HS, that his interest in music came back - with a passion. In the meantime, he tried a lot of different things - cross country & football, Scouts, drama, etc. Today? He's a Music Comp major at a Conservatory.
And - as a pp indicated, a lot of people who are forced to take music lessons as kids end up turning away from it later in life. I know I did. I played piano for 13 years. I have a Steinway here at home, and a Yamaha Clavinova at my parents. I don't touch either. I keep the Steinway tuned for my son, but I don't play it.
Originally Posted by bronxmom
My daughter (11 - 6th grade) gets up at 6:15am, leaves the house at 7:45am to be at school at 8. She's at school for almost 8 hours (8am - 3:40pm) then commutes over an hour home to get home by 5.
This must be a typo - how is it she gets TO school in <15 minutes, but needs an hour to get home?
Extracurricular activities do more than teach kids skills or keep them busy... they also teach kids how to interact with others. Social skills are very important in life, and they are more easily developed when kids are young. Even if they're not particularly social/sociable, it's important to learn how to interact with others appropriately.