Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Overscheduled children

Jess is starting first grade next year - and she wants to play soccer. Why soccer, I don't know - I would not describe her as an overly physical sort of child, she's never expressed any desire to do anything with any sort of ball, but for whatever reason, she thinks soccer is the way to go. She also dances -she's been attending dance class for four years now, and she really seems to enjoy that as well. Adding in Hebrew School (which is still meeting only on Saturdays for the next year, but will start meeting on Monday and Wednesdays as well once she hits second grade) - this child could well be a textbook case of an overscheduled grade school child.

I believe, for me and my kids, anyway (not wanting to judge anyone else's choices) that kids benefit enormously from having a stay at home parent and a lot of downtime built into their schedule. I think there's huge value in day dreaming, in reading and writing, playing pick up games with the kids in the neighborhood, riding your bike and playing in mud. I think for Jessica especially, having some "relaxing time" is really critical to her overall happiness. Unstructured play time, when she has to use her imagination and create something to do out of nothing - I think that's inherently good for a child. Builds creativity, self-sufficiency, and also a stronger sense of family togetherness - when your sibling is the only playmate available, you learn to get along and have fun.

Which is why I'm surprised to find myself wondering if I should sign her up for one day of afterschool activities as well. Dance, soccer, Hebrew School aren't enough, part of my mind is saying - let's send her to the afterschool program as well. There are so many opportunities for kids - swim class, cooking class, etc - plus time spent with friends, building relationships - the drive to enroll our kids in everything is so strong sometimes. Even though I consciously disagree with it in theory, I still find myself wishing that I could.

In reality, we are definitely going with dance, which will be on Wednesdays, and if I can confirm that soccer doesn't conflict with dance or Hebrew School, then I'll sign her up for that as well. I'm probably going to forego the afterschool program, because even though we could probably afford it, she doesn't really need it, and would probably prefer to stay home anyway. I'm just surprised at how easy it was for me to start to think that soccer, dance, Hebrew School and an afterschool program would be the perfect combination for her, knowing that Jessie would almost always rather just stay home and play, and that she's lucky enough to have a parent at home to take care of her.

In other news - Sam was riding his hobby horse today and singing to himself "Save a Horse, ride a cowboy." Not sure where he heard the song, but was terribly amused by it. Harrison and Jordyn (the other kids I watch) are reliably potty trained, mostly, but Sam still has zero interest in it.


Jessi said...

sounds busy for sure but i say if she wants to do soccer ontop of everything let her have a go. if you find that she's too tired or cranky or just not interested just drop it. you're so level headed and i love your way of thinking! don't worry, you'll do just whats right. i think having downtime is good for kids too.

sam will get interested in potty training one time or another. remember, he won't go to school in a diaper so hang in there :) i know it can get tiring just hoping and waiting they'll start to do it!

Melissa said...

Thanks for the pep talk... I keep reminding myself that he won't go to college nursing or in diapers :-)

Heather said...

Cakes has zero interest in potty training too. It's very frustrating.

I agree about overscheduled kids. In fact, we have a strict limit for Bee - in addition to church youth group, she's only allowed to participate in one extra-curricular activity at a time. This year will be dance. We believe that at age 6, time to play after school is still very important.