Saturday, June 12, 2010

The "Extras" That Go With Extracurricular

Anyone who reads this blog with any sort of regularity knows that my son is sort of a science junkie. He loves anything that relates to bugs or plants or the planets or the solar system or animals of any kind...I could go on. I call him my little science geek (there are worse things...). So it seemed natural that when his school offered a science class every Wednesday during nap time I signed him up immediately. He has been talking and talking about that class...couldn't WAIT for the first one. Well the first class was this past Wednesday. When I picked him up the first thing I asked was, "How was science class?"

"I so disappointed Mommy," he said and wandered away. I chased him down and asked him why. He said, "Bubbles Mommy. We did BUBBLES!" (Imagine him using the most disgusted tone in his voice while saying that). He went on, "You told me it was a science class. We didn't do ANY science, we just did dumb ole bubbles. I thought I was gonna learn about bugs or plants or just wasn't anything like I thought. I sure hope next week is better."

I laughed it off and told him I was sure next week would be better. Then I thought about it a little. I am sure the the teacher thought that a surefire way to get the kids engaged in her class was to do something they would all enjoy to start the class off. Who doesn't enjoy bubbles? I mean who besides my little science nerd doesn't enjoy bubbles? Then I started thinking about a mom who perhaps put her kid in the science class hoping that it would be something they would develop a liking for when perhaps that wasn't their strong area to begin with. And then I started to wonder about putting kids in classes in general.

Which is the train of thought you follow? Do you think you should put your kids in classes for the stuff that you already know they like thereby hopefully continuing their interest in a particular area? Or is it smarter to put your kids in classes for stuff that might not be their strong point in the hopes that they will learn to enjoy the activity and hopefully start to engage in it more? My example: His school obviously offers the science class, but they also offer a "Little Movers" class and a karate class. The Boy really needs to learn to be more physical. He is a little Peanut with little bird legs and arms. I would love for him to develop an interest in something physical that could help him develop more in this area. Right now he knows his limits and he never pushes himself. But with his weight issues I have this dream that if he starts to be more physical, he might build up some new muscles and gain more weight and then possibly build more muscle tone etc... However I am not of the school of thought that a kid should be in a different extracurricular activity every day. I don't want to be that parent that "over-schedules" their kid so I am going to limit his "extras" to one or two things. So do I do those one or two things with classes that I know he will love, or do I push him a little?

So my question...what do you guys do? If you have young kids, what do you think you WILL do? I obviously signed him up for science because I know he will love it (bubbles notwithstanding), but I have also signed him up for soccer on Saturdays and I am contemplating signing him up for the karate class hoping for some of the stuff I explained above. But I find myself questioning myself. Am I trying to shove my boy into areas that might not be his first choice because I want him to be a certain way? As his mom isn't it my job to try and gently push him into healthy areas of his life? (Obviously if he hates any or all of it I wouldn't continue to "force" him into it...I am simply trying to open a door and see if he wants to continue to walk through it...) I swear, sometimes making the right decisions for your kids isn't as easy as it seems. What do you guys think?


Guinevere said...

We're firmly of the "extracurriculars are for things that the child is expressing interest in" camp. I think this might be because I suffered through a lot of musical instrument lessons that I really detested when I was a kid. :)

I think a kid gets exposed enough to things when they are school age that they can find out if they are into a particular sport or would like to take a musical instrument or are into art or science. But really, the extracurriculars are for what the kid is interested in beyond what is offered at school... and there, I believe in letting the kid's interest guide choices.

We have the same "one or two extras at most" philosophy, and I think thus we were pushing our kid in the future to try out new things it would be at the expense of letting him explore things that he is actually interested in. And really, I think the enthusiasm to really take advantage of an opportunity comes from within and cannot be forced... from my experience with lots and lots of lessons/camps that I didn't really want to do as a kid!

Laraf123 said...

I have all the same questions. By boys are 3 and 1. I signed them up for a total of 5 classes this summer. As a working mom with the summer off, I try to squeeze as many extracurriculars in these three months. My boys just want to stay home. Henry hates to be rushed out the door. What have I done? What will I do? We live in a community that is all-sports, all the time. If my boys show an interest, I'll be the first to sign them up and drive them to activities. BUT it is so difficult to know what to do when they're not interested. To push or not to push...

I know you were looking for insight and advice. Sorry I have none. If you find it, could you send it our way?

Thanks for sharing--glad I'm not the only one in this camp!