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extracurricular activities

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Do you put your kids in any extracurricular activities/groups? I haven't yet (they are 3 and 6 years old) and I'd like to keep it that way for as long as possible. I believe that it can be too overwhelming not to mention expensive. Sometimes I feel bad and guilty that they don't get to experience some cool things that others do. I'd just rather live a simpler life where they go to school, have the occasional play date and spend the rest of their time at home or with relatives. It's how I grew up and I don't recall ever wanting more but things are different nowadays. I must admit that my reluctance is partly for selfish reasons. I'm shy and socially awkward and don't want to have to deal with stuff (like selling girl scout cookies? No way!) Do any of you feel the same way? 

post #2 of 11

I guess I really just follow my kids and add moderation where needed to keep life sane and peaceful.  I want to find out what my kids REAL interests are so that when they're a little older, we can be sure to focus the time and money we DO spend on stuff that they're really into.  As a result, my 3yo is actually pretty scheduled right now.  Summers are great because it's not the same length of commitment as doing a spring or fall class.  So she took ballet, gymnastics, art and a preschool math camp.  We are likely to do one more round of the park district/recreation stuff in the fall for the things she seems to really love and then if she continues to love it, we'll invest in a higher quality program.  But we are careful about the amount of stuff that we have the kids involved in for the sake of our family's sanity!

post #3 of 11
My kids have done a variety if activities over the years. It's helped them grow as people. There are inexpensive options through parks and rec, or through the y.

We were in girl scouts for years (I used to be a leader) and selling cookies is optional. However, it is part of what keeps the other activities affordable. Depending on that gs council you are in, a lot of the proceeds get kick back to the troop for activites. Some councils use the proceeds to underwrite camp, making camp very inexpensive for girls who sell cookies.

We only have a short period of time that we can provide these opportunities to our kids. Then they grow up.
post #4 of 11

Your kids are young, so I wouldn't worry about getting involved in activities yet if they aren't asking to join any groups. They may want to try some activities as they get older, if they see how much fun their friends are having. 

 

My kids have done a variety of extra-curriculars over the years. They started with parent-and-tot swimming at our local pool. They are teens and I think last year was the first year that they weren't in some kind of organized activity outside of school. Even so, DS played in a couple of garage bands that he organized himself and DD performed in the school play and did several other performances for school. The difference is that I wasn't organizing or paying for any of it. (Well, I did lend a bunch of stuff to the school as props for the play, but I got it all back). 

 

There were lots of benefits to extracurriculars. They enjoyed learning new skills. They developed a lot of confidence in joining new groups and social situations. They experienced different teaching styles and learning environments. They had numerous and diverse groups of friends, so if their school friends were too busy or unavailable there was always another social group for my kids to play with. 

 

It doesn't have to be expensive and overwhelming. You can set boundaries. Your household budget probably already has a line for entertainment, so you can include activities and recreation there. Look for low-cost alternatives.  As Linda suggested, municipal parks and recreation departments often offer inexpensive activities. Check the library and community centres. One year we signed up for nature talks and walks at a local parkland - it cost almost nothing (I think $5 donation for snacks for each visit). You can also set boundaries on the number of activities and the timing. Many families like a schedule of one activity per child per season. Bonus if 2 or more kids can do the same activity at the same time. 

post #5 of 11

We do.  My older son is on the autism spectrum and needs practice socializing with other kids.  Playdates don't come easy around here.  Parks and Rec has inexpensive programs and he has had a blast.  Also, my husband remembers being in middle school and not knowing how to play sports in P.E. while everyone else seemed to have experience, and that was difficult for him.  Last chosen to play on the team kind of thing.  So he really wanted our sons to play sports.  My boys are six and four.  The four year old is not in any extracurriculars but wants to try karate so we will start that at five.

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathteach View Post

We do.  My older son is on the autism spectrum and needs practice socializing with other kids.  Playdates don't come easy around here.  Parks and Rec has inexpensive programs and he has had a blast.  Also, my husband remembers being in middle school and not knowing how to play sports in P.E. while everyone else seemed to have experience, and that was difficult for him.  Last chosen to play on the team kind of thing.  So he really wanted our sons to play sports.  My boys are six and four.  The four year old is not in any extracurriculars but wants to try karate so we will start that at five.

I feel the same way with sports. I was never any good at sports and always picked last and it bothered me. DH never played sports either. I would love for my son to try soccer next year. We started swim lessons over the summer and will continue for as long as he's interested. Learning to swim is important in my book. we go to the pool often in the summer. He started gymnastics last week and loves it. We took a free trial class and he really enjoyed it. Watching the olympics also got him interested. When he's a little older, I would like to see if he's interested in learning a musical instrument.
DD is still little and we'll see what interests her when she's older.
post #7 of 11

I was horrid at sports at PE, painfully shy, few friends, I always wished I had be encouraged to do some sort of activity as a child instead of only reading books at home. We started doing parks and rec classes when DD1 was almost 4. She had horrible anxiety even then (anxiety disorder) and they were cheap enough that we could attend when on good days and not so much on bad ones. We stuck with it because she really loved sports. Eventually we discovered that they really helped her SPD, helped her make friends, and then later on with her self esteem after we discovered she was dyslexic. She does many sports, they are basically her reason for living. It is very expensive, you really don't want to know what we spent last year. She is on three travel competitive teams. 

 

We'll see about my other kids, two of the younger ones do sports as well but it remains to be seen how interested they will be as they older. Right now they love them, we don't continue if they lose interest. 

post #8 of 11

My kiddo didn't do sports until the past year or so. He is on a swim team that practices between 3-5 days a week.  He won't even consider any other 'sport'.  He loves art classes, theater and library programs.

 

We stay local for the swim team, while the option is there to travel, we haven't.  I can see swim getting expensive in the upcoming years if kiddo sticks with it and his times improve.  For now its just a monthly fee, very reasonable, a swimsuit-goggles-backpack and 'splash fees' for meets.

post #9 of 11
If I did not homeschool, then I probably would have felt the same way as you do. However, in our situation, activities outside of the home are oppurtunities for my kids to be with their peers. So we do them.
post #10 of 11

it depends. 

 

i would agree with you. i grew up the same way as you - surrounded by people and playmates. i didnt need any extracurricular activities. 

 

but dd is not growing up that way. we dont have that social structure. by 6 i noticed she was kinda starting to get bored at home - only because we didnt really have any neighbors to play with. 

 

by 6 she needed to 'do' things. like girls scout. i get you. my life is really full and ugh those cookie sales. at that age it was more about me being involved rather than dd being involved. but i did it because dd so loved that interaction. 

 

then we moved. into a neigborhood where there were a bunch of mixed age kids to run around with. dd was in heaven. THAT was her extracurricular activity. 

post #11 of 11

in all things, moderation.

 

My kids take swim lessons locally in the summer, and in town (25 min drive) 5 weeks in fall/spring.  My boys are in a local art class. It is 6 weeks long and we usually do it 2 times a year. Little sister just started taking parks and Rec gymnastics. She loves it, and brothers want to try it next session. Boys take piano lesson, but that's not "group" activity. There's also free story time at the library for little sister and homeschool group (also a library class) for the boys.

 

Besides piano, I can really only afford to do one paid activity per kid at a time, and not always that. And that's just going to have to be OK. One boy (but decidedly not the other) would like to try soccer in the spring. So we'll probably start into sports then. I'm honestly not looking forward to it. My sister has 3 kids also, and is busy every night with running in different directions. From the outside looking in, it seems like a nightmare.

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