While our children are younger, we have been trying to expose them to a variey of activities: dance, team sports, drama, art, bookclubs, individual sports, etc. We (obviously) don't schedule all this at once, but over the years we try to give them opportunities if something seems to interest them.
Now my oldest is getting older (11 1/2). It has been clear for a while now that her interests primarily lie in the performing arts. She now has the opportunity to audition for a dance team that will compete at a national level--with one "big travel" event during the year and a couple "small travel" events (day trips) during the year. She really wants to do this. I would like to let her try. But, part of me wonders if it is too soon to "focus" that much attention to one activity. Sure, she will do other stuff, but since dance and theater are "her things"-- I don't see where she would have time to differentiate as much anymore.
I know of some people who are very sports driven and their kids are traveling for soccer at age 8. We (as a family) have thought that 8 is too young for that kind of dedication. However, figuring out the "magical age" where it suddenly seems right is hard.
So, for those of you who have a child with a very strong interest in a specific activity, at what age did your dc start really focusing on it. . . how many hours/week did this require. . . how expensive did it get. . . and if you had it to do over again, would you change anything?
It's not really for us to figure out the magical age. When a kid finds their thing, you know it. What's important is to leave those doors open and make sure it's the kids choice to walk through them. It's also important to not invest too much of the family culture in one child's interests. Kids don't need to feel pressured to continue with soccer because all of mom's friends are through the soccer program, KWIM?
My oldest is into the performing arts as well. I could write a book on our journey but I'll give the short version. DD started occasional theatre classes at 3 (cute little story telling type classes.) She started doing shows at 8. At 10 she knew she wanted to be in theatre forever. At first, she still continued doing other things but by 13, she let go of everything but theatre and entered the performing arts high school. At 14, she spends about 10 to 20 hours a week on theatre not including the multiple arts courses she has to take at school. I have encouraged her to be very practical and to learn as much about the whole business as possible and so involved in many aspects like teaching, theatre administration, backstage, directing, acting, ect. She is pursing theatre as a career but at this point, she's not totally sure what avenue.
It can get very expensive if you let it. Personally, we've put some pretty severe limits. We average about 1200 dollars a year for DD and theatre (which is her only activity.) This pays for classes at her very high quality youth theate as well as any production fees if she's doing a youth show that season. If she does professional work, SHE gets paid so costs us nothing. We really dig for specialized programs and internships. Many of the major theatre companies in our area have hidden opportunities that are subsidized by donors. They can be very competitive to get into but can't beat the price. DD used to take voice and dance but now she gets that through school and it doesn't cost us anything but the extra gas to get there. There are incidentals like dance shoes and clothing but at least at 14, she's not outgrowing them every few months. We do know families that spend 10 grand a year on theatre and frankly, their kids aren't any more successful than my own. I will say, when it comes to performing arts, you have to be very careful. There are lots of people who claim professionalism and are ready to take big money for low-quality return. I used to be a professional stage manager and so I do have an advantage when it comes to spotting these sorts.
My youngest is 10 and he still wants to do a little of everything. He loves tae kwon do and is almost a black-belt. He loves the piano. He loves theatre. He is starting trumpet in the band next year. We just sort of go with the flow with him.
Thanks for all the info. This journey has been such a learning curve for me. It is hard to find quality instruction and good opportunities. Scams are abundant here as well. I don't have a background in any of this, but fortunately my sister is also a performer. While she isn't famous or anything, she is a real life example for my dd. My sister is also very helpful--she has a better filter for crackpot schemes than I do.
Wow, how wonderful to have a high school geared towards the arts. I wish we did. Right now though we homeschool. This has enabled us to have a flexible schedule and she has been able to do more simply because of this flexibility.
It's not really for us to figure out the magical age. When a kid finds their thing, you know it. What's important is to leave those doors open and make sure it's the kids choice to walk through them. It's also important to not invest too much of the family culture in one child's interests. Kids don't need to feel pressured to continue with soccer
This. My kids were relatively young when they found their "thing", both in sports. For DD (almost 14) it was rock climbing, she started at 6 and got serious at 8. For DS (11) it is soccer. From a toddler it was apparent he was an athletic, sporty kid, with exceptional eye, hand coordination. He tried multiple sports from a 4 year old and by 5, going on 6, he was settling on soccer. We didn't do the whole competitive thing, but made an effort to find the very best development we could, we were lucky that we had a local non competitive soccer program run by an excellent coach who has developed US National team players, so DS got the very best start to learning the technical aspects of the game. My kids have never been forced to do these activities, it has totally been up to them. Last year DD felt a great deal of pressure from her climbing coach, so she decided to switch trainers and gyms for a less competitive program. DS is forging ahead with soccer. He plays for a MLS youth academy team, and has been selected for their elite player training. DS's soccer does take a great deal of commitment from our family, but we are willing to do it because he really wants it. We are very selective about what we allow him to do, there are tons of soccer camps and programs offered in our area, but he is generally way above the level they offer, and we could p*ss away a ton of money, so we tend to go where he is invited, and these are generally free or low cost, for example he was asked to train with the local high school soccer team; as an incoming 6th grader, he can totally hold his own technically against these boys. His elite player training with his club is also by invitation only and free of charge.
"If you find from your own experience that something is a fact and it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority and base your reasoning on your own findings"~ Leonardo da Vinci
Well up until a year ago DS10 would not do any activities. You could not pay this kid to do anything (I'm not kidding) and that was ok. We homeschool and I was ok with an occassional class here and there. Well in the past year DS has fallen in love with theater and swim club. I see him being able to compete with swimming next summer - this is a kid who would not listen to anyone 6 mos ago about how to swim, strokes or anything. Now he is in swim club. He started theater last summer, Swim lessons in March and joined 'swim club' in May.
So for us it was when DS was ready to take classes and make the commitment. He will be 11 at the end of summer.
Mom to J and never-ending , 0/2014 items decluttered, 0/52 crafts crafts completed
Seeking zen in 2014. Working on journaling and finding peace this year. Spending my free time taking J to swimteam