Pro activities: "It kept them all busy and focused. They had to manage their time well and were able to do well in school also. Everyone of them received academic scholarships. I feel that, although we were crazy busy, it was worth it. There might have been a few things we could have cut out, but I wouldn’t have changed too much." "It was been worth whatever it cost in time and money." "We feel the expense was worth it, the time can be a little consuming." "I wish I had done more to get my kids into piano lessons. They balked and I didn't push. I would now." "Within reason it was worth it to invest in these outside activities. We involved the whole family so it was a good bonding experience and a good opportunity for the 'non-players' to support and root for their siblings....It just has to be worth it to spend time and money on your children's activities. That's what families are really about. The children grow and learn and we all support them." "I know it is so easy to get over scheduled especially with a lot of kids but the time while one is in a lesson can be one on one time with another or a trip to the park with some of the others. One of the funnest things we did about lessons was having our own home recital with each of the children participating, special invitations, refreshments and dressing up to make it special....I admit, I am big on lessons, even if they don't practice as much as I would like them to."
Anti too many activities: "I think that possibly there is too much emphasis on sports and other activities. I think they may be overscheduled, and I am quite positive that moms are overscheduled!" "When you see that an activity would interfere with church activity, eliminate it. Most of the time, that is harder for the parent than the child because of their own personal unfulfilled goals....I personally see families revolve their whole lives around, for instance, baseball. And after high school graduation, I seldom see that all the time and energy was worth it, as far as doing well in school, getting a better job, being a better person, being strong in the gospel, going on a mission, etc. Only rarely does, for instance, a scholarship result. "
Balance: "There has to be a balance, and it all depends on the child, the availability and stamina of the parents, and the social situation they find themselves in." "We decided that we couldn't afford every sport so the boys chose this one." "One special activity for each child."
Seven parents answered with information about what their kids did. Of those seven, all seven included experience in sports, six with piano, five with dance, and four with instruments other than the piano.
Abigail (and Martin)
All of my kids have been involved in many activities. I started teaching most of them piano at age four or five because they wanted to learn. The youngest two didn’t get regular lessons however. They all play the piano and at least one other instrument. They all know how to play the violin except for the flautist. We have a violist, a cellist and a bass player. A couple have learned the guitar as well. We were very involved in soccer and track and also participated in a smattering of other sports including basketball and swimming. They excelled in sports and some of them got scholarships for that. It kept them all busy and focused. They had to manage their time well and were able to do well in school also. Everyone of them received academic scholarships. I feel that, although we were crazy busy, it was worth it. There might have been a few things we could have cut out, but I wouldn’t have changed too much.
Kenneth and Catherine
All five of our children took piano lessons beginning at age eight so all of them can read music and all have been able to sing in groups in ward choirs and school groups and have been able to be pianists on missions (sons) and in Primary and Sacrament meeting (a son plays the organ). Some have also played the flute and trombone. Our three girls have taken dance lessons resulting a greater degree of gracefulnes in their demeanor. The children ehave been involved in basketball and tennis and we have played together as a family on outings and vacations and with our extended family. We were blessed to belong to the neighborhood tennis and swimming club which provided great family and neighbor relationships. It was been worth whatever it cost in time and money.
Karen and Lance
We did involve our children in music/sports/dance. Our children learned to play the piano with lessons at $5.00 for 1/2 hour, a good investment. Of course all prices from the 60s seem like not much, but at that time $10.00 was too much. Two of our sons played the drums and clarinet. Didn't last too long in Jr. High as they went on to play basketball and didn't have the time. Our one daughter took dancing lessons until she was 12 and then decided she had too many other things to do. Although when she got married she had 5 daughters and they all took music and dance lessons. One is in college and is still in dance. The others are all good on the piano. One plays the Viola and another can play the Bassoon and clarinet. We feel the expense was worth it, the time can be a little consuming. Our boys liked playing all kinds of sports, in season, so a couple of them were stars at their games, the others were very good and still are in the sports they choose to play in their 40s to 60s. We do tend to slow down a bit as we age.
Rachel (and Bennett)
We have five daughters and one son. I started all our daughters out with dance lessons at age 4 or 5. One daughter decided early that she didn't want to continue. Two other daughters quit a few years later. One daughter continued dance, loved it, and continued to dance in high school. For her the time and money was worth it. Actually, for all the girls, the time and money was worth it, just for the experience, even though they didn't continue through high school. One daughter says she regrets she didn't continue past seventh grade. She just didn't know then that she really loved dance. My other girls that quit do not particularly miss dance, but are disappointed that they just QUIT!--that they didn't stay it through until they had really learned something. I have one daughter that played soccer, one that played volleyball, and my son played soccer and volleyball. When they progressed in soccer far enough to possibly get on a competition team, I was so overwhelmed with schedules, and driving, that I discouraged them from competition teams. Subsequently they didn't progress any further in soccer. I don't really regret that choice, because I just couldn't do it, with everything else going on. They don't talk much about missing competition soccer. My son played high school basketball, and volleyball, and my daughter played high school volleyball. I could not get to all their games, and it was frustrating how much time practices took. It was almost impossible to eat dinner at home in the evening. I also had one daughter who took piano lessons. All the many extracurricular activities available to kids today, gives them a lot of opportunity for developing physical skills, and teamwork. But I think that possibly there is too much emphasis on sports and other activities. I think they may be overscheduled, and I am quite positive that moms are overscheduled! I had a saying posted on my cupboard that said, "If a mother's place is in the home, why am I always in my car?" While all those activities seem very important at the time, I'm not sure they have lasting importance. They do, however, help a child develop self-confidence, and sometimes they learn to work hard at achieving a goal, or working with others. I'm not sure I can say the money and time are worth it, but I also think they would feel deprived somewhat if they didn't participate in something. There has to be a balance, and it all depends on the child, the availability and stamina of the parents, and the social situation they find themselves in.
These are difficult decisions.
Mary (and Robert)
I wish I had done more to get my kids into piano lessons. They balked and I didn't push. I would now.
We had our daughter in dance from the time she was three. She loved it but when we moved we didn't find a school we could afford that pleased her. She was about 12 by then and she made the decision to do other things. She chose to be involved in school drama competition. It was less expensive but not without cost. She was happy and in fact got a scholarship in her field. She found lots of extracurricular activities that met her needs. This is the degree she has chosen in college as well.
Two of the boys played soccer into their adult years. They started at 3 or 4 and played on competitive teams. For years our family vacations were determined by where the next soccer tournament was located. We have had some good experiences and visited some interesting places. We decided that we couldn't afford every sport so the boys chose this one. They played Church basketball and volleyball and games with neighborhood kids, but their love was soccer and they don't seem to have missed the others.
Our other son found his activities with music and wrestling in school. It was certainly less expensive than outside organizations for the sports but the music probably ended up nearly on par.
Within reason it was worth it to invest in these outside activities. We involved the whole family so it was a good bonding experience and a good opportunity for the the "non-players" to support and root for their siblings. Each child was supported fully with parent and sibling participation whether it was going to games, going to concerts, putting up with having a retreat at our home for 3 days, watching games during vacation, etc. It just has to be worth it to spend time and money on your children's activities. That's what families are really about. The children grow and learn and we all support them.
Cynthia and Brad
Moderation in all things. Kids can't handle too much stress and a tight schedule (neither can parents). One special activity for each child. When you see that an activity would interfere with church activity, eliminate it. Most of the time, that is harder for the parent than the child because of their own personal unfulfilled goals. If a child expresses interest in an activity, don't threaten with "OK, but you have to promise to practice." Let them explore different options, but not all at once. Of course, some sports require a big expenditure up front, such as soccer. Then some experimentation before the expenditure to see if they will like it is in order. Music instruments can be rented and returned if it doesn't work out. That gives them at least an appreciation for all the hard work and talent involved. I personally see families revolve their whole lives around, for instance, baseball. And after high school graduation, I seldom see that all the time and energy was worth it, as far as doing well in school, getting a better job, being a better person, being strong in the gospel, going on a mission, etc. Only rarely does, for instance, a scholarship result.
Danielle (and Jake)
Our limitations were always financial. We did shop for the affordable piano teacher and at one time I had two children in piano and traded 'ironing' for the lessons. I ironed much more than the time it took her to teach piano, but that was okay. When we ended the deal, I received a call from the husband of the piano teacher and he expressed great sorrow that we were no longer trading because he no longer had ironed shirts in his closet. It made me laugh. We did soccer until the 2nd grade (not much) and then got our kids involved in the high school swim team which was way more affordable.
Jane (and Samuel)
We thought it was very important for our children to have an opportunity to develop talents. I especially like what classical dance does for kids even if they are not going to go on to be ballerina queens. I love that they hear the classical music and that they move their bodies and get the discipline of dance. Our oldest son took ballet along with his sisters. It was fun to see him doing ballet leaps when he got to go in to play on his football team...this was when he was about 11 or 12. He had the opportunity to be in Ballet West's Nut Cracker and even be a bit of a character in the party scene. It is a treasured memory for me and something I really enjoy telling him about since he suffered a head injury and has been handicapped since he was 14. We wanted all of our kids to have the opportunity to take piano lessons and almost all of them did for some period of time. I was not a severe task master so most of them quit before they had gotten really good at it but I still think it was valuable. There was a period of time after our oldest son was injured that we didn't follow through very well with lessons but we really tried to give all of the kids the opportunity to play the sports they wanted to play and to try their hand at instruments and vocal lessons, violin lessons, I am pleased to say that our children seem to think lessons are important also. I know it is so easy to get over scheduled especially with a lot of kids but the time while one is in a lesson can be one on one time with another or a trip to the park with some of the others. One of the funnest things we did about lessons was having our own home recital with each of the children participating, special invitations, refreshments and dressing up to make it special. I was delighted when one of my daughters invited us to hear her children and her sister's children present a concert at a nursing home after she had taught them piano for a year. I admit, I am big on lessons, even if they don't practice as much as I would like them to.
These answers were added later:
|Marianne (and John)|
|Marsha (and Richard)|
We gave the children piano lessons when they were about 8 years old. They each eventually gave it up. If I had it to do over again I would have insisted that they take through high school but that’s challenging if they don’t want to continue or are not musically inclined. One daughter wanted to play the violin. We told her we would pay for lessons once she started with the school orchestra and we knew she was still interested. She took lessons and played with the Youth Symphony Orchestra in the community. I don’t regret money or time spent on music at all. I think any music base is positive for a child’s development
We could not afford other lessons nor did we want to spend our time transporting children. Luckily, our children were naturally pretty athletically inclined. One daughter learned gymnastics from her friends who took lessons and did well on her own. She taught some of the younger ones. We had an Olympic sized trampoline, which was probably one of our best investments! Our children were active and it helped a lot to have that physical outlet.
My husband was determined to have the children home at the 6 p.m. dinner hour. So, we didn’t participate in sports that precluded that priority. I’m very grateful as I look back as family time was not sacrificed for sports. Our dinner times together had a far greater positive impact than the sports would have had.
One daughter dived on a scholarship basis with a private team with the understanding that we would pay for her travel expenses. Other divers picked her up and dropped her off from practices. It didn’t take much of our time or money and she was home for dinner. Once we could afford to pay, we started paying for her training also. We often supplied our van for their travel to help do our part. She dived in College on a scholarship and did very well. Her diving career started with the local Parks and Recreation Swimming and Diving program. It was not expensive and provided daily training for each of our children during the summers. All our children learned to swim very well in this program. This daughter realizes now that though she treasured her very positive diving experiences with a trainer who was totally supportive of her values and goals, she did miss out on some family reunions, girl’s camps, etc. to be able to do that.
The only sport we participated in outside of Church sports was Little League Baseball. The boys participated until they were about 12 when they lost interest. That one season we didn’t hold to the dinner hour rule. We did not feel our children were built for football and the sports for the girls were not well developed yet, thank goodness. Sports were more an optional activity for them. We have no regrets. We did what we could do with our limited time and finances and the children played in the neighborhood and church and developed their skills well enough for them to enjoy sports as adults. We now have family tennis tournaments. I would encourage more tennis in our grandchildren as I see what a lifelong family-friendly sport that it is when pursued in moderation.
Next week's question: How did you enforce bedtime if young kids didn't want to stay in their rooms?