This past weekend in the Washington Post there was an article of a mom who color coded her 8 year old son's and 5 year old daughter's schedule to make sure that they can fit every opportunity her children could possibly do in a week. Color coding? Anyway, her son's schedule was filled with piano, football, tennis and something else ? and her daughters was filled with ballet, swimming and art? What a schedule for one week! I know with us only doing ballet for our oldest, I often wonder if we are overdoing it at times. Yes, I do want her to be exposed to other things, but how much is too much?
The article continued to say that children who were more exposed to extracurriculars like the sports and music lessons were more likely to succeed in life. I think a lot of it has to do with balancing schedules and organizing time. But how do we balance? Do we do what they want to do or what we as the parent wants them to do? And if your children are interesting in other things, do I want to add on top or expand?
I think I have come up with a solution, at least for our lives, when we start this quandry of extracurriculars, is that we need to keep them balanced outside of school to keep their outlets in life balanced. My solution is to pick one activity on each of the following:
Pick one activity spirtually based:
This centers around the childs spirtual growth. I dedicate Sundays for that in my children's life. They need to have their spirtual identity defined, their relationship with God and knowing about faith in general. This could mean Sunday School, youth group, acolyting, or anything else that engages them on their level.
Pick one activity that is mentally based: Mental activity could mean anything from chess clubs to reading book clubs or drama or music lessons. This grows creativity and grows how they can solve problems. Mental activities should be only what the child likes best, and where the child feels most comfortable to express his or herself. Don't push the violin if the child wants to read instead. Why engage them in something they are just not that thrilled about?
Pick one activity that is physically based: This, of course, means sports or something that encourages physical activity. This means whatever the sport or activity the child likes best. Right now, my 4 year old likes ballet, and probably can only do that one activity for the time being. We tried the soccer route with her, but she was not ready yet for sports. She likes expressing herself with dancing, and right now is where we are going stay. When she wants to start running with mommy, she can do that when she is ready
Basically, each of these activities will bring out the balanced life that we as adults try to find. Introducing this to kids, we need to keep it at their level. After all, they are still kids. If they strive to be the best, they will do it naturally, but don't do it at the expense of either their spirtual or mental development. I know with me as an adult, I look for these three activties in my life to fulfill my life as a giving person in society. As long as I am happy, I think that is what I want to portray most.