The public schools are starting. Today Madison County schools had their first day, and next week Madison and Huntsville City schools will start their year off. Despite being a homeschooling family, I still feel a tinge of stress and anxiety when the schools get started because I know that kids' activities are soon going to start.
I must confess that our kids are moderately over scheduled. There are many articles written by psychologists that enumerate the disadvantages of enrolling your child in too many activities, but I'm not sure how much of their logic would apply to the homeschooled child. Many doctors say that kids are stressed by being away from home and family, first all-day at school and then in sports and other extracurricular pursuits afterward. But, our kids are home all day long and are always excited about their out of home classes and sports, and that is the problem.
Our kids want to do everything!
Last year Elora participated in Brownies, soccer, multiple dance classes, chess tournaments, swim team and piano lessons. Corbin also played baseball in addition to soccer. We are also involved in classes and field trips with our homeschool cover, and we try to maintain some involvement in our church's children's activities.
Corbin has been begging all summer to get involved in tennis and basketball, and Corby would really like for the kids to be involved in some classes at the children's theater.
How do you decide what to do? You certainly can't do it all!
There is always the cost to consider. Dance classes, theater classes and tennis lessons are billed monthly, our piano lessons are free (Thanks John!). Chess class is also free, but it can cost anywhere from $20-$40 for a tournament registration, and if that tournament is far enough, you pay travel expenses. The sports through the city recreation department (baseball, basketball, soccer, and swimming) charge a up front fee of about $90 each. Scouts are relatively cheap, but then you have the inevitable fundraiser where all the kids are pitted against one another to see who can sell the most cookies or popcorn.
Another consideration is logistics. Piano lessons are the easiest because they are at our house during the day at a convenient time. Our Friday homeschool classes are also in the morning, which is not a conflict because we do most of our school Monday through Thursday (The one-on-one teaching actually goes much faster than classroom learning, and we use Friday for tests, review, make-up work or fun stuff.)
All the other activities the kids are involved in are in the afternoon, because they are open to school age children, so they take place after school is out. Tennis and swimming are at a very nearby park, while baseball and soccer are a bit farther away. Dance and scouts are very close, while theater would be the farthest away activity.
I am trying to weigh all of this information, but I haven't even received a complete schedule for most of these activities. What about the time conflicts? Elora would like to join the winter swim team, but they practice 3 days a week. That certainly limits the amount of time she has available!
You can see how all of this may be a little stressful, and I am sure it seems a little ridiculous. Part of being a parent is knowing when to say "NO", but I have a hard time refusing the kids experiences that I myself enjoyed as a child. You are probably wondering, "Why do kids have to participate in so much stuff?", and believe me, I wonder the same thing. Can't we just decide on few things and eliminate the rest? We are finding that decision very hard to make.
We really need some feedback on this, so I am adding a poll for you to offer up your opinions. Please leave a comment if you have the time, every little bit helps!