As a parent it can be hard to decide what to enroll your kids in. Not only are we trying to keep our kids happy, but there’s judgement from other parents and our own FOMO.
Is now the time?
In general, life is long, and we have many time to learn skills throughout our life (My grandmother learned to paint water colors in her 60s and became quite proficient). Some skills, however, like learning a foreign language or musical concepts are learned significantly more easily if started young. For that reason, it makes sense to enroll a child in a bilingual preschool and to join a Kindermusik class. Another place to start young might be the sport your family loves. If you as parents spend a lot of time on the tennis court, by all means, give your child the skills that allow him to be part of the fun. Most other skills can be taken up some other time.
How much investment reaps the benefit?
One challenge with our children’s activities is the feeling that if they show any interest or aptitude, then they should be engaging in the activity fully. That belief can back fire. A client’s child was invited to join the gymnastic team and chose to do so. She was soon at the gym six days a week. By high school this girl had a severe injury and had missed out on hours and hours of family life. Instead of gymnastics being a fond memory, she looks back with some bitterness. In contrast, my daughter stuck to the just-for-fun class. She learned how to use her body and that translated to a love of yoga as a young adult.
What is the cost to the rest of the family?
There are so many wonderful activities for kids today, and sometimes we get excited about the opportunity without really thinking through the effect of our decision on the whole family system. I have one client who enrolled her child in a choir that met on Friday nights. Her child enjoyed it, but an expectation of strict attendance meant that the family could never go to their weekend house until Saturday morning. Not only did they not get the pleasure of a lazy Saturday morning in the woods, they spent precious daylight hours driving instead of playing together as a family. If this girl lived for singing, maybe it was worth the sacrifice, but a different choir or a vocal coach might have been a better option.
If your goal is to create enjoyment in the short run and a lifelong learner in the long run, balance the activities you enroll your kids in with care. They have a lot of years to be exposed to things. They don’t have do everything at once.
PRO TIP: The older your child is, the more you should not only give him the free rein to choose his activities, the more responsibility you should give him for figuring out the logistics of his schedule.
Do you and your spouse fight about how many activities to enroll your kids in? I can help with that! Sign up for a complimentary Getting to Know You Call HERE, and we’ll see what can be done.