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How many extra-curriculars do you try to fit in at this age?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I have one son who is four.  A lot of his friends do other activities and I'm starting to feel guilty that he's not one of them.  I think something that would focus his boundless energy, like tumbling or karate or an acting class would be fun for him.  And maybe there's a interest out there that we don't know about it yet because he hasn't tried it.


On the other hand, he's gone from home for 8+ hours at day care (now a 4K program), five days a week, and sometimes he asks me with a hopeful voice on the weekends, "Maybe we could just stay home today?"  And frankly, the thought of *having* to be somewhere on a Saturday (because, I can't see evenings during the week working) isn't thrilling to me either.


Plus we're wanting to add a baby into the mix, as we're TTC...oy.


Does anyone else feel like a slacker?  I know that eventually there will be school-related activities and such.  I'm just not ready for it. redface.gif

post #2 of 19

Our boys (3yrs & 19mths) are normally enrolled one 1 extra curricular a week - and I find it a huge commitment!


One good compromise I’ve found works well for us is buying memberships to several large attractions in our city. For example, memberships to the zoo, science centre, museum, etc. We make an (educational) day of it, but are not committed to going every week at a certain time. Plus many places offer ‘members only’ one-time events that we often sign up for. This allows for a structured environment that allows our boys to interact with others, much as they would experience in an extra curricular activity, but I like that there is no commitment to return again and again. This way we can have a lazy weekend whenever we need it, and we are not missing out on a program we’ve paid for.

post #3 of 19

I think four is a little young to be doing a lot of extracurricular activities, but that's just my opinion.  My daughter will be four in 6 wks, and I don't have her in any extra activities (besides speech therapy).  I like the PP's idea of museum/attraction memberships.  If we lived in a bigger city, I would probably do the same.

post #4 of 19
DS just turned 4. We started swim lessons in July, because I feel swimming is a good skill to have. We swim a lot in the summer. We also started him in gymnastics and he loves it. Swimming is on Saturday and gym is on thursday. DH picks him up at 4:30 for his class and then I pick up the little one from daycare and head home. It's not too bad. It will probably get harder once the little one is ready for activities.
post #5 of 19

When my kids were 4-ish, one activity was usually all they did, if that. They need a lot of rest at that age and it doesn't do much good to be running around all the time on a tight schedule.

post #6 of 19
My three year old will be starting swimming lessons and gymnastics this week. She also just recently started attending a Montessori school which she goes to Monday-Friday from 8:30 am until 1:00pm. I thinks she is ready to be active and involved in what our city has to offer her. For the classes my husband and I will both be there with her. My son who is in 2nd grade will be taking the same extra classes that my daughter does except at his own age level. We specifically moved to this city so that the kids and us would have more educational activities open to us. Next year I an on my daughter to start taking Suzuki piano instruction.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

We definitely do a lot around our city, we have a zoo pass, have had the local science museum pass for a while, and we try to get out and do special things a lot, as there is a lot going on in our area.  We did swimming lessons last year and it was just OK...he didn't like them, and it was early Saturday morning, so neither did I.  lol.gif


However, he does have quite a lot of drama pent up in him, maybe a little theater class would channel that energy towards good instead of evil.  orngtongue.gif  The upside is that we have a lot of classes offered through our local recreation program and they're quite inexpensive, so there's not a huge investment of money and they are usually only an hour once a week or so.


Thank you for your input - it's just so hard to find that balance, you don't want your kids to be over-scheduled, but at the same time, like someone said, we do have a lot to offer where we live that I didn't have at all where I grew up.

post #8 of 19

I think it depends on the child.


I can't really foresee having a 4 year old in more than one activity, but mostly because of my own schedule and my own child's schedule of full time daycare/pre-school plus the one activity.  Any more than that and we'd always be on the go which just isn't our personality.  But some people are awesome at being on the go all the time and are wired for that.  So it just depends on what feels like the best fit for you and yours I think.

post #9 of 19

My 5 year old is in zero activities. This is acceptable.


I don't feel like a slacker. I feel like I'm living my life. We can ride bikes, go swimming, visit relatives and friends, etc and get just as much benefit as any other activity. There is plenty of time for organized group activities when she is older.

post #10 of 19

 We live in a place with tremendous pressure on children to find their "thing" very young. My 7YO plays soccer, and there already are scouts for the older competitive teams who are at our games. Some of the private schools here require that children choose a musical instrument to play in kindergarten. Our magnet school starts in 2nd grade. So it's pretty tough here to let your kids not do activities and put them in later unless they're naturally gifted or have no interest in being among the best in an activity. With that said, both of our kids are in gymnastics and soccer. DS will begin learning tennis in the spring. He also plays chess. DD(5) plans to try out for a theater group in the spring, and she wants to begin taking violin lessons. I feel chaotic a lot of time, and my weekends are spent doing lots of errands and organizing to make the week work. I want my children to feel that they had the opportunity to compete with other children in our area, though, so we commit to it. 

post #11 of 19

We are a little crazy, DD's are signed up for all kinds of things.  They are both very ambitious and like all of their activities though.  They have gymnastics class at the same time, which is a nice quiet time for me to read a book or talk to other moms.  DD1 started dance and gymnastics at age 3, DD2 started earlier mostly because her sister was already enrolled.  I think it does depend on personality a lot though.  I like taking the kids to their activities and being, 'on the go' all the time.  We pack snacks, hair things, and homework materials in the car.  The kids like it, too.  :)


DD2 (almost 4): 1 saturday morning dance class (since age 2.5) and 1 thursday night gymnastics class (since age 2).  She was also enrolled in swimming for a while, but decided she hated it, so we decided to drop it for a couple of years.  She LOVES her activities!


DD1 (almost 7): Monday after school: violin class, Tues/Thurs afternoons: gymnastics team, Fri after school: girl scouts, Fri evening: ballet, Sat morning: swimming.  The swimming is short-term, and she will probably drop that in the next couple of months, after she becomes a stronger swimmer.  Girl scouts and violin are after school at the school, so convinient for everyone. 

post #12 of 19
This is something that is totally personal to each family. I completely get how you feel like maybe because other kids are doing extra curriculars your son should too, but the question is really, is that what you and he both want? My daughter did little league at age 5 "because all herfriends were." she would get too tired after practice and games, and in my opinion it was too much for her, though she did have fun most of the time. The commitment kept us from doing other things that were really important to us as a family too, sometimes as simple as eating dinner together.

She is 6 now and has shown us that she is starting to feel restless and wants to do more so we spent a while evaluating her interests and comparing that and our family philosophies with the programs available locally. We settled on a class for dance and Pom once per week on the shortest day of school each week (they get out an hour early on Wednesdays and her dance/pom class is one hour).

One of the things that we have always done is just make sure the kids lives are enriching, and that we do things as a family. "Extra curricular activities" don't have to be programs, sports, or clubs. They don't even have to be the same thing every time. You can go to the library one week, go swimming, go to a children's museum, read books together at home, do crafts, have friends over, have a picnic out or on your loving room foor, or go to play dates. The important thing is just doing something different from the typical family routine once in a while. It doesn't have to be expensive or a commitment. Sometimes even teaching life skills to your kids can be enriching and fun! My daughter loves to cook and sew and knit.

One of our favorite things to do is go downtown to the square and play in the grass. We do this once every few weeks, and she gets a rainbow ice cream cone for $1.25. It is a very cheap activity and focuses on being out in her community, and there is no major commitment. We go to the park, or to the farmers market sometimes. We are lucky to have lots of local events we can take part in too, like movies in the park during the summer, and lots of farms to visit in the fall.

Don't feel like you have to sign your son up for an activity that he isn't crazy about just because that is the path other families have chosen. If/when the time comes that he wants to join a sport or a club he will help to let you know.
post #13 of 19

My five year old is enrolled in zero extracurriculars. None :)

post #14 of 19

My 3 year old is taking a Judo class with her dad for 30 minutes every Saturday morning from Oct to Dec.  She also attends daycare/Montessori 5 days a week 8:15-5:15.  If she wasn't in daycare then I would put her in stuff as much as possible.  


I am also too cheap to pay $100 a month for a 30 minute ballet class once a week.

post #15 of 19

we dont really do EC before age 8 or so.  

post #16 of 19

We have many friends who do a ton of ex-c things but we don't. Preschool and or K now is more than enough. The kids LIKE to not have anything to do as in sit on our bottoms and play legos for five hours straight on one of the weekend days. The other day I try and do something outdoors/athletic/brainy.

post #17 of 19
none really, although i wish he could do something! we do awanas at church during the school year, but my work schedule, along with finances, makes it nearly impossible to do anything else. i know he'd love a tumbling or gymnastics class though, and i wish i could afford it. hopefully when hes a bit older, im done with school (this part anyway) and have a job with "normal" hours, it'll be easier. I was in a couple of sports, and girl scouts and such growing up, and i loved it. i want him to have the oppertunity to make those memories.
post #18 of 19

For my 4-year-old, we limit EC activities to one  dance class one hour a week, which she started when she was (almost) 3. And that is definitely all she can handle. She also started full day Montessori school this year and initially had a difficult time getting herself together to attend that one class after a full day at school. She would plead with me to let her just stay home, and if I had to take her sister to dance class, she would ask to stay in the car while I dropped her off (which I never did!).


DD1 started the same way - one hour of dance one day a week at around age 3. At around age 6 we added a 30 minute weekly piano lesson. Then, the next year, dance got more intense.  One hour turned onto 1 1/2 hour and the next year a pre-pointe class was added on a different night of the week.


So, in my opinion, it's better to introduce things gradually. Schedules tend to get more complicated the older they get, no reason to start the madness early!


PS: I also think greenmamato2 has the right idea!!

post #19 of 19
We do zero to one extra curicular activity for my 5 an 8 year old girls. We offer and they'd rather stay home and play. I'm glad because with she and I working full time it would be hard. But is do it if they showed interest. The one thin we did for a year was weekly pottery class. And in summer we do more because camp doesn't file all their time and my husband is off from work. Hth.
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