Thursday, August 2, 2007

Probably Overscheduled, But What Can I Do?

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!


Grandma Bettyanne said...

I ran into the same dilemmas and this is what I would do differently. Note I said differently. 2 activities per child max - children need "margin" in their lives (and so do you).


One of the activities should be physical. If there is a clear benefit in a particular activity (that a child might not see), YOU DECIDE. Otherwise, give them as much information as they can handle (including costs) and let them pick. They must commit to see the activity through for a period of time you can determine; then, they can change. They must commit to put forth effort.
Because John is so generous with his time and availability, you might consider piano part of their school day music class. BUT THEY MUST COMMIT TO PRACTICE!!! Consider whether any other of the activities could fit in with homeschool, such as soccer for P.E.Anytime, a chosen activity is not working, encourage them to see it through and then pick another next go around.
REMEMBER: Grandma will pay for tennis lessons :)
REMEMBER: you will not ruin a potential Pele or Mia Hamm or Chopin. Talent will come forth regardless.
REMEMBER: never sacrifice a church activity (such as choir, youth group). Believe it or not, this is one I failed miserably at and I regret.
REMEMBER: Grandma will pay for tennis lessons :) ...which could be considered part of homeschool P.E.
REMEMBER: PRAY, PRAY, PRAY... our children our on loan to us from the LORD.
REMEMBER: Grandma will pay for tennis lessons :)

I will be praying for you too!
God Bless - Grandma

Grandma Bettyanne said...


Rather, pray for DISCERNMENT.

Also, Grandma will pay for tennis lessons...she will NOT pray for them. ...well, maybe not... jk.

Love and God Bless!

Anonymous said...

I think as they get older, they will naturally settle into the activities that they like the most/are the best at. I wish I had been able to try more things when I was Elora or Corbin's age.


herding old cats said...

My best activity growing up is missing from your poll, and that is band. With marching band, there is the music, the physical motion, the visual (bright colors moving in time to the music) and then the teamwork. With concert band, all the concentration is focused on the music. Either is a great lesson in teamwork.

Luckymom said...

Being a former "band geek", I came very close to including this in the poll. This is another thing that I think the kids would enjoy, there is even a homeschool band that is available, but it is about a 20 minute drive to get to where they practice. Proximity is a high concern when we get involved in something. Maybe next year, after all I didn't start band until 5th grade and even if the kids wait until then, it will still be 2 years earlier than when the public schools now start band, which is in 7th grade.