- topicUnschoolingtagged by System, 1/20/13
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too much socializationpost #1 of 101/20/13 at 3:42pmThread StarterI have not begun h.s. yet, but am planning ft or next fall. My 7 y.o is interested in taking lots of classes... Horseback riding, music, language lessons, gymnastics, ballet... You get the idea! Should I limit like I would if she were in public school, or is it OK to let her choose whh things to takepost #2 of 101/20/13 at 3:44pmThread Starterpost #3 of 101/20/13 at 4:45pm
What you've described are what I would think of as learning activities, not socializing. They may also involve some socialization, but that would probably vary a fair bit with the format, group make-up, schedule and interpersonal chemistry. Whether it's too much would depend on what else you're planning on juggling, how much travel and prep time / home practice is involved, and what the schedule for each activity is. For instance, there's a big difference between a once-a-week recreational gymnastics class that is 5 minutes drive from home and lasts an hour, and a 90-minute practice 3-times a week in a town an hour away.
If she's interested in learning all those things, you don't necessarily need to limit her activities to the extent that you would if she was in school. Homeschooling allows you to have lots more time and energy for things normally considered "extra-curricular." My advice would be look at specifically what is involved for the programs you would be signing up for, then do a mock-up of the week's schedule, and make sure that you have at least two (and preferably three) days a week where you don't have to leave home. It's probably best if the at-home days are spaced out through the week, too: eg. Sunday, Tuesday and Friday. You may also want to start out a little gradually if all these activities are new to her. Start a couple of them in the fall term, and then add one or two more in the winter, another in February, etc.. I think it's nice not to be at the beginner stage in everything at the same time, and it would also ensure that she's not ending up exhausted and burnt out after ten weeks, not enjoying any of it.
My dd is 9 and she currently does violin, gymnastics, downhill skiing, art class and XC skiing. Each is just one session a week. Violin she's also expected to practice every day, and XC skiing she's expected to do two additional workouts per week. Downhill skiing and art class take up 3 to 5 hours each session. There are occasional ski meets or music recitals that add an extra commitment to a week. It's a lot, but we've built up to it gradually and she knows it works for her. The balance of in-home and out-of-home activities is something we are constantly monitoring and discussing, adjusting as we go.
Mirandapost #4 of 101/28/13 at 11:56pm
Miranda is right - the things you listed are probably primarily learning experiences and not primarily socializing. My kids are in many activities this year (a lot more than I would consider doing if they were in school), and it is working pretty well for us. Sometimes I wish we were doing less and home more, but I also know that for me and the winter blahs it really is better to be forced to take the kids out to do athletic things.
I think it is good to really map out what the weeks/ months would look like if your DD participated in the things she is thinking of. See how busy it looks, and consider what would be the first things to go if it wasn't working for you all. Consider it from her angle AND yours - is all that driving and waiting at classes something you can make work well for you too? It's important for both of you to have something that works, and not to become a taxi driver without a say.
Also, consider what you really want your life to be like as a family. What sort of rhythm works well for all of you? You may find that some things of interest can wait a little while, as you find your "groove" and then be added in later if they are still a priority.
Sorry, I wrote this then realized I am writing in the unschooling forum, but I think I haven't said anything non-unschool-y, so I won't delete it. :)post #5 of 101/29/13 at 1:03am
I think there is often a shift that happens at 7, a new maturity-this is pretty well documented in psychological literature-and with my kids there has been a great desire to try out different activities. This has then started to settle down as they really work out what it is they want to be doing. So my feeling is that there may be some benefit to letting her try out all this stuff, but with the caveat, if its hard to fit it all in, that its not a permanent arrangement. I don't think its the same as if kids are in school really, no, partly because these extra curriculars can be quite central to their education but more because HS kids just don't have to have the same pressures of time-if she's up late for a horse riding thing or whatever, she can sleep in the next morning. The thing is though that she doesn't need to try them all out at a high pressure, going-to-classes pace.
I think one thing that is really important, there are different kinds of ways to get most of these experiences. Doing gymnastics at the local community centre is very different to doing it at the local proper kids gym place. Our local gym sessions for kids are a bit rubbish really, but we can walk to them in ten minutes, there is a playground next door and its part of a complex that includes a library. My kids know half the other kids in the class from scouts/guides or just being in the playground. Also, its a drop in session. So my kids -and my middle child loves gym and is good at it- mainly do their gym there, with occasional terms at the local super-expensive super-fancy kids gym place that you have to drive to and that is in the middle of a retail park. Basically, if we can walk to it and sit in the library or whatever and if it doesn't mean taking everyone else out late and if its cheap, they are free to do it whenever they want. You might find this set up for some of the things on your list-gymnastics, ballet, possibly music depending on how she is interested in it. Its a really good way to try stuff out and see if its something you want to make a bigger commitment to.
My kids also have a few activities which do require greater commitment, Music lessons and orchestras/choirs, for example, you do need to put in time and practice and so forth, I feel, because otherwise you are letting down others. I do expect my kids to make a commitment time-wise to orchestra, and I don't expect them to pull out of music lessons at short notice-not that I think they'd ever want to, but to me they are in a category where you need to make a commitment else you are letting others down. We have a local, small community choir that falls into every category above (close, cheap, don't have to take everyone with me for drop off/pick up because its so close) BUT because the point is to rehearse for a performance for the local community, the kids don't sign up for it unless they are prepared to do (almost) all the sessions (I mean, you know, barring life). But when you say music, what is she specifically interested in? If I had a child who was interested in "music" the first thing I'd do is actually be listening to music with her, taking her to a range of concerts (if this were new to her I'd go for more relaxed, free concerts like you often get in the foyer of big music halls). Maybe she doesn't want to take lessons but just wants to listen? At 7, there are quite a lot of instruments that she'd just be too small for anyway, though within the year she could probably start on a gateway instrument (say she was in love with the saxophone, she might manage a clarinet if she is on the tall side).
I think my biggest, single, tip would be for you not to financially or otherwise lock yourself in to an arrangement which ended up with you feeling you had to push her to continue when she had decided something was for her. I know I have been there-its easily done! I feel in the "trying out" stage it is really important to, as far as possible, avoid a situation where you are miserably making her go just because you have spent the money (I feel this applies to books, awesome curricula, etc, as well). So I'd say, unless its literally the only option, don't launch into classes etc right away but start slow.
ETA one thing that's not clear from your post-do you have other kids too? This makes a big difference too. Dragging a toddler around class after class is something to be avoided, IMO, unless you can really make it fun for them (like I say, many of my kids classes happen in a community centre with a library and playground attached). But if the 7 year old is your only one then its an entirely different matter because that time for you is potentially pure childcare. Very different if, while your daughter is in a class, you can go off and recharge with a quiet coffee, or run some errands, as opposed to trying to keep a two year old from climbing on the gym equipment.post #6 of 101/29/13 at 5:43amThread StarterHi! I do have another child (3.5). He could potentially be in a kiddie gym class when dd is in the bigger girls class ( I'd I move her to a different night, which she doesn't want to do, but we might make her)
She wants to take violin lessons, too... Which my 3.5 ds might be able to do too. (They start them at 4)post #7 of 101/29/13 at 5:44amThread Starterpost #8 of 102/23/13 at 10:21am
No, I don't think the activities you listed are too much, as long as you can afford them. We have gone many years with 9 or 10 activities per week (field trips, sports, clubs, playgroups, park days, etc.) and though it eventually drove me a bit nutsy at times, the children thrived. Not all children could handle that much activity though and my children are such that they LOVE staying home, too. For the past year or so, I try to keep it to 4-6 things a week per child, but I always ask the children what they want, and watch to make sure they are happy and enjoying their time and activities.
I actually think it's fantastic when a child has a ton of varied interests & wants to do so many things. Let her do it while she wants to! Chances are that in one year, she might not want to continue all of those activities, but might switch out for some other ones. Just let her follow her lead!
And someone above mentioned "limiting" and I think limiting has no place in unschool. Someone who limits might be an eclectic homeschooler but not an unschooler, I would think. The only exception would be to stay within a budget, but in that case, you tell your child how much the activity budget is and show them how much everything costs and give them some options (we could afford these three items or these four, which would you prefer we go with?).post #9 of 102/24/13 at 11:49amQuote:Originally Posted by RiverSky
And someone above mentioned "limiting" and I think limiting has no place in unschool. Someone who limits might be an eclectic homeschooler but not an unschooler, I would think. The only exception would be to stay within a budget, but in that case, you tell your child how much the activity budget is and show them how much everything costs and give them some options (we could afford these three items or these four, which would you prefer we go with?).
I think there are a number of natural limits which can come into play above and beyond finances. We don't really have significant financial limits but we find plenty of other reasons to keep limits on out-of-home activities. For instance: limited parental energy, the environmental cost of driving, parental time, sibling tolerance for being dragged along, the risk of driving, the loss of parent time for other siblings, the reduction in family time together especially with my dh, the "chill time" at home that is necessary for some people to remain emotionally resilient and comfortable to live with but which they may not necessarily crave, time for physical activity, time for at-home responsibilities like laundry, animal care, snow-shovelling etc. Perhaps my perspective is a bit skewed because most of our available activities are 90 minutes from home, I have four kids and we live in the mountains with long snowy winters. But when we don't heed those natural limits things quickly get out of whack.
Mirandapost #10 of 102/24/13 at 2:08pm
Yes, we are limited by drive time (for us about an hour), finances, fairness (also goes with finances-- if one girl gets a nod to the team, then I need to let the other one do it when it comes her time), moods, "chill time" which helps soothe moods, having enough time for household work, yard and garden work. There are many reasons for limits outside of strict financing.
I also like what we can do at home in place of these activities. For example, "Wolf Camp" outdoor skills classes were fun for a while, but they were expensive. We had to let those go. But I like that the girls are still interested in doing those things here, with more open-ended exploration available to them. The classes could have been far more in line with unschooling (they were rather didactic), but they never would have replaced the luxuriously ample time we have exploring those same things by ourselves. In the classes, we were "students" learning from "teacher" (cool stuff, admittedly), at home we are students together. We discover where to learn information when we want it outside our own observations, and they learn things that teachers might never have thought of (like, watching a deer peeing! Kids love that stuff!)
I like that my girls have confidence that their own observations and discoveries are as valuable, if not more so, to their path as that of a teacher's lessons. As fun as all these classes and activities are, if my kids didn't enjoy learning on their own time, and instead consistently were looking to outside instruction for everything, I would see this as much a learning impediment as dyslexia. (Oh, please, that is not a perfect example, please don't pounce on me for that one and see the point I am trying to make! ) I mean this above and beyond a child's natural preference for learning. Some kids naturally gravitate to situations where they are learning from a "teacher" of some kind, others are more comfortable with exploration without interruption. I merely mean if there seemed to be an extreme imbalance.
I agree with the pp that it is not about "too much socialization" but about being overscheduled. Finances aside, one family's full-but-joyful calendar is another family's stressful nightmare.
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