Over scheduled children and extra curricular activities

(51 Posts)
FatOwl Tue 17-Sep-13 10:21:12

Putting on my flame proof pants here.

I run Rainbows.

there are two other units within reasonable distance and I know the other leaders quite well.

I am just getting ready for the term and have had in the last few days no less than 10 emails from either parents in my own unit or parents from the other two nearby ones, wanting to swap groups/come late or leave early every week/even asking me to adjust the time of my colony to accommodate swimming/dancing/horseriding/gymnastics etc etc

I know it's obviously up to parents how many extra stuff their DCs do etc, but AIBU to ask why is it us that why is it always us that has to accommodate? I bet they are not asking dancing if they can arrive 45 mins late every week.

I know we don't have to accommodate (we all have a waiting list and could easily fill the places), and I'm so tempted to email back and say "sorry you have to choose, your DC can't do everything"

angelos02 Tue 17-Sep-13 10:22:57

Surely the class runs at a certain time & that is the end of it. If someone can't make that time, tough tits.

Bonsoir Tue 17-Sep-13 10:25:36

Presumably they ask you rather than other activities because they perceive some flexibility in your system that there isn't elsewhere. Scheduling activities is hard work for parents too and I know which activities are entirely non-negotiable and which ones have a little leeway.

SuperiorCat Tue 17-Sep-13 10:27:06

YANBU - I guess that it is the start of the year so lots of DCs will be moving about within lesson groups hence they now cannot fit in with your timings.

It is not up to you to change, they have to decide which one they want to do.

Bonsoir Tue 17-Sep-13 10:27:25

And it is fine to say no! I don't expect activities to accommodate me - I just hope they might.

Tommy Tue 17-Sep-13 10:28:05

YANBU - this is when it runs, if they don't want to come then, they obviously are not that bothered whether they go to Rainbows or not. We have to make choices and children may as well start realising that sooner rather than later!

SuperiorCat Tue 17-Sep-13 10:28:15

Thinking about this again, they are being very rude.

And as you are volunteers they are doubly taking the piss.

hippo123 Tue 17-Sep-13 10:28:50

Why should there be leeway In brownies / rainbows/ cubs etc? I would send them that email op.

TeeBee Tue 17-Sep-13 10:29:33

'Over scheduled children' is your assumption. YABU for that. But otherwise, you volunteer your time, they either turn up at the time you have set or miss out, that's their choice. Turning up late disrupts everyone as you need to explain everything again, so I would say a no to that.

IneedAyoniNickname Tue 17-Sep-13 10:29:45

When I was young, my ballet and swimming lessons were both on a Friday. As I worked up the ballet grades, the class got later until eventually I was running out from ballet getting in the car in my ballet gear and going swimming.

Then I went up another grade, and the classes clashed. It never occurred to either me or my mum to ask either class time to change, I was given the choice about which class I stopped taking.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 17-Sep-13 10:30:10

>ask why is it us that why is it always us that has to accommodate?

Probably because they know that they wouldn't stand a chance of the other profit-making activities trying to accommodate them. And frankly, you don't have to, and shouldn't. Its not fair on the kids who do a sensible amount of activities to be mucked around to accommodate kids who are doing other things. I think your proposed email is quite correct. They can't do everything - they need time at home being kids, getting bored, having to use their imaginations and <whispers> doing stuff with their parents not just chauffeured to them.

If you and the other leaders know there's kids who would like to swap groups with each other, fine - but anything that disrupts the rest of the kids is taking the piss.

WilsonFrickett Tue 17-Sep-13 10:31:23

I think swapping groups is fine, if you are able to do it without too much fuss. But changing times/arriving late/early - do people really do this shock. How rude! You have to just say no OP. That's ridiculous.

Portofino Tue 17-Sep-13 10:32:23

I have to leave work unacceptably early to take DD to Brownies once a week. Maybe I should ask Brown Owl if she could it back an hour? wink

Tough titty imho, and very rude to even ask.

harryhausen Tue 17-Sep-13 10:35:47


You are volunteers. Great volunteers in my experience of Guiding. Just because you don't turn a profit a minority parents seem to see you as some kind of 'filler' activity or perhaps a bit of child care. Totally not on.

Put your foot down. It runs when it runs. It's up to them to either work into their timetable or drop it.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 17-Sep-13 10:38:19

>'Over scheduled children' is your assumption. YABU for that

trying to do more than one thing on the same evening is over-scheduled, even if its the only things they do that week.

harryhausen Tue 17-Sep-13 10:40:18

I agree with Errol. 'Over-scheduled' seems merely factually correct in this case. The OP didn't seem to be making a moral judgement on it!

I think a reply email (as polite as can be) saying to these parents something along these lines and apologies if I've misinterpreted some aspect of the Rainbows sessions:

Hi X,
I would like to remind you that Rainbows runs a volunteer session each <enter the day of the week here> from <time a> to <time b>. Unfortunately it is not possible to accommodate everyone at these times and we understand this. However we do have a waiting list of people wanting to attend at those times.
Regular attendance is essential and any Rainbow attendee/student/child missing sessions continuously will lose their place. There will be no refund for sessions missed.
Your child's session will now be on
Mon/Tues/Wed/Whatever From 5pm-6pm (or whatever time you've mentioned above).

Kindest regards,

Fat Owl

harryhausen Tue 17-Sep-13 10:48:24

Seems fair to me. If you have a really long waiting list, it seems unfair to enroll girls who never show up.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 17-Sep-13 10:49:03

YANBU to refuse to change your timings. You have a life too I expect.

YABVVVU to think that Rainbows is going to be more important to anyone than music or dancing or drama lessons. Or to even put Rainbows in the same category as music, dance or drama.

These people clearly want to continue doing rainbows if they can. Facilitate them, or don't facilitate them. Just don't expect them to choose you over something proper.

harryhausen Tue 17-Sep-13 10:55:18

Russian aren't you a charmer.

The OP isn't expecting them to do anything except join Rainbows (if they want - which lots of girl clearly do and are waiting to do!) and come along regularly, not ask to leave early all the time, do a different session some weeks etc. Its just rude IMO.

2madboys Tue 17-Sep-13 10:56:37

shock Wow, Russians. I really hope if your DC go to Rainbows, or anything similar, Scouts, for example, that the leaders don't hear you talking like that. The leaders give up huge amounts of time (including weekends and holidays) to run sessions, camps, preparation, planning, meetings, etc. I have two boys so have no experience of Guiding (apart from my own), but definitely consider the massive opportunities and experiences they've had through Scouting to be 'Proper'.

harryhausen Tue 17-Sep-13 10:57:03

Just to point out, I took offence to Russians 'something proper' comment. Rainbows, brownies and guides is hugely 'proper' in my eyes when done well.

Iamnotminterested Tue 17-Sep-13 10:57:27

Russians, you're bang out of order with your post on so many levels, I'd run for the hills if I were you.

whois Tue 17-Sep-13 10:58:00

These people clearly want to continue doing rainbows if they can. Facilitate them, or don't facilitate them. Just don't expect them to choose you over something proper

Wow. How rude! Arguably small children get more useful life skills out of rainbows than dance.

JammieCodger Tue 17-Sep-13 10:58:05

Or to even put Rainbows in the same category as music, dance or drama.


It's Rainbows. Its for seven year olds and younger and is exactly the same as music, dance or drama should be at that age. Something social and fun.

YANBU, OP. If classes overlap then it is for the parent to make a choice, not for you to fiddle about to accomodate them. I'd recommend something just along the lines of what WhatchaMaCalllit suggests.

cashmiriana Tue 17-Sep-13 11:01:27

Something proper???

Guiding has given my DD1 the best experience of any of her activities. She loves her music and dance lessons, but I am fairly certain that if she had to choose, Guiding (she's now Senior Section and a Young Leader) would come first. The music and the dancing is fantastic, but Guiding has given her more confidence, more life experiences (camping, climbing, shooting, archery, caving, rafting, community service, extended project work, understanding of international relations) and more strong friendships than anything else she has done.

We know in this town that there will be a long wait to get into the excellent Brownie packs and Guide units, and are prepared to wait for a place for our children - DD2 probably won't get a Guide place until she's 11.

So OP YANBU. People need to choose what their children do.

OurSpoonsCameFromJohnLewis Tue 17-Sep-13 11:07:20

Guiding gave me an awful lot more than any drama, music or dancing did. Guiding gave me confidence, experiences and skills dealing with people which have carried me through university and into adult life: what could be more "proper" than that?

lljkk Tue 17-Sep-13 11:07:29

Rainbows? Bloody hell. They can't be more than 6. DD was doing 10 activities a week when she was 8 or 9 and we never had to ask any special favours.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 17-Sep-13 11:12:21

It wasn't me that implied that 'swimming/dancing/horseriding/gymnastics etc' should somehow be seen as secondary to Rainbows, and that to do proper activities - that may actually be relevant to real life - is to be 'over scheduled'. I would never have dreamed of starting a thread criticising the sort of parent that sends their child to rainbows and I agreed with the OP that is was unreasonable to expect her to change her schedules to facilitate individual parents BUT she was also making a clear value judgment about what she felt was 'good' activity (her thing) and what was not (other stuff) and I couldn't disagree more. If she hadn't listed the activities she seems to have a problem with, and just raised the issue of the parents wanting her to change her timings to accommodate them, then I wouldn't have had any problem with supporting her.

whois Young people don't get better life skills out of rainbows (or cubs or whatever the boy equivalent is) than music, dance or drama (or even swimming or gymnastics) There's no 'argument' about it.

Itsaboatjack Tue 17-Sep-13 11:14:06

Last year my dd's swimming lesson was moved back by half an hour half way through the term which meant she would be late to brownies by about 15-20 minutes. I explained the them and they were fine with it. I didn't realise that according to some on here I was rude to even ask. For the next term she moved up a level and was able to go to a class at a different time.

I appreciate it may be annoying if lots of parents are asking different things of you but can't you just say no if it doesn't work with you?

mercibucket Tue 17-Sep-13 11:15:38

i dont see a big deal here, i ask other 'proper' (does that mean profit led?) classes if they are ok with us arriving late as we are coming from another class. up to them if they say yes or no. asking means 'or would you prefer us not to come at all' which would be fine and i would understand.

so, op, you are right that you are the second choice activity, but this also happens to private classes

in fact i used to run a paying tutor class and people were always adking to change the time/day. i was happy to oblige if it suited everyone but you cant please everyone all the time

Russians, if I understand what Rainbows is, it does actually purport to be relevant to real life as it is the starting place for children who go on to Guides or Brownies or whatever. They enhance the skills that Rainbows start. What could be more relevant to real life than that?

I can't imagine someone needing to pirouette or sing their way out of a difficult situation but knowing survival skills and getting the right groundwork to enhance those skills would be useful in real life, right?

rainbows.girlguiding.org.uk/ Interesting site!

Elsiequadrille Tue 17-Sep-13 11:22:22

Yanbu. We can't make all the extra activities Scouts put on because of commitments to other activities, but for the regular class we made sure the time slot was free.

Lancelottie Tue 17-Sep-13 11:27:12

For a tiny minority of children, dance/music/drama will be hugely important to their future career.

For most, they are life-enhancing in much the same way as Rainbows.

(and I suspect for some, music/dance/drama and Rainbows are nightmares inflicted on them by their parents.)

DeWe Tue 17-Sep-13 11:29:35

I think it's rude to ask to change the whole unit's times, but I think aksing if you can arrive late/go early is not unreasonable. It may not even be that child's things.

Monday night is our Guide/scout night. I have:
Ds: Beavers 5:30 to 6:45 (and often overruns or is further away at a trip out)
Dd2: Brownies 5:30 to 7:00
Dd1: Guides 7:15 to 8:45.

All in different places about 5-10 minutes drive apart. They just don't meet in the same places. The Beavers is the only one ds got into on the waiting list, the guides is the only one running locally. We do that Brownies because it was the one dd1 got into.

Thankfully we have a lovely leader for dd2, who when I asked if I could leave dd2 5 minutes early if the leaders were already there, had no problems with it, but if they hadn't been able to do that she would have to arrive slightly late as neither her nor ds could be left to let themselves in.

jenniferalisonphillipasue Tue 17-Sep-13 11:30:38

Like someone else said YANBU unreasonable not accommodating them but yabu unreasonable assuming it's over scheduling. I have 4 kids and there is one rainbows group in non driving distance. It s on the

jenniferalisonphillipasue Tue 17-Sep-13 11:33:35

Same night as my sons gymnastics. My dd can make rainbows if I am 10 mins late. There are no alternatives to the classes and both are dearly loved by both dc's. Am I being reasonable in even asking for some leeway? It doesn't have to be provided and I would respect that decision.

harryhausen Tue 17-Sep-13 11:34:49

Russian, you seem to have made the assumption that by simply listing the other activities (dancing, ballet, horse riding, music etc) that the OP is saying that her Rainbows activity is more important. You seriously get that from the OP? She simply made a list of things that she's obviously recently been asked to accommodate.

harryhausen Tue 17-Sep-13 11:37:43

I don't think anyone is unreasonable for asking, but put yourself in the OP's shoes - if every parent had a request to end 20 mins early, be 10 mins late....it would be really hard to work out an activity for all Rainbows. I'm sure no-one would mind a few times with exception.

FatOwl Tue 17-Sep-13 11:41:27

Thanks everyone

Esp to those who have said good things about Guiding and Scouting. I used to do Beavers when DS was little as well, hence my typo in the OP about Rainbows being a "colony". I have also run Guides and Brownies in my time.

I NEVER said I expect parents to chose Rainbows over other activities. In fact I would rather they made a choice one way or the other and stopped asking me or other leaders to bend over backwards accommodating them. I do however resent the fact that you consider the time volunteers put in, not just at meetings, but planning, training, meetings, camps, sleepovers, getting qualifications, first aid training, getting CRB checked etc, means we are not a proper activity, eg over someone who hires a room in a community centre and calls it a drama class. We are the largest volunteer led organisation for young women in the UK, with safeguarding policies, training programmes and programme development. There is nothing not "proper" about us.

I apologise for the "Over scheduled", that is an assumption on my part for most parents. I do however have one rainbow, who does a full day at school and then does KUMON maths, rainbows, swimming, mandarin class, violin, karate and dance during the week. She is six!

ZZZenagain Tue 17-Sep-13 11:48:07

my dd's best friend does Kung Fu 6 x week, Tai Chi 2 x week, piano lesson and has to fit in daily practice since she performs at a very high level already. What with rehearsals, performances and all the sport, it is very difficult to ever arrange for the girls to meet up outside of school. Mind you my dd does a lot too but not that much.

I suppose all the activities where dc are sent to acquire a particular skill or which are expensive get prioritised. However, it would never have crossed my mind to ask if a group could meet at a different time so it fits in with dd's schedule. Either you can fit something in or you can't IMO

treadheavily Tue 17-Sep-13 11:50:07

I would send the email saying sorry we can't change the time, your daughter is expected to attend etc, but I would leave out the bit "she can't do everything" as that's overstepping it a bit. You have more dignity by sticking to the facts.

Oh, and I can imagine your frustration but if it is any consolation we just love Girl Guides in this house, it's my (over-scheduled) daughter's favourite activity.

alarkthatcouldpray Tue 17-Sep-13 11:52:24


I would love DD1 age 4 to start Rainbows. She has just started P1 and is exhausted by 1830 when the session starts. It wouldn't occur to me to collect her early just to facilitate her attendance. It's all or nothing in my book. Will reassess at Christmas.

I am perceived to be a bit mean when it comes to activities by other parents. I would rather she did one or two things she really liked rather than haring about all week. When DD2 starts going to things it may well be one activity each for a while and they will have to choose their favourite.

I loved pre Brownies when I was wee - was called Smurfs in our church!

fuzzpig Tue 17-Sep-13 11:55:47

YANBU, I don't think it would be fair to arrive late/leave early (disrupting everyone) as what if they take up a space that could be used by another child who can attend the full session.

I can't imagine my DCs doing more than one activity of an evening, although that's partly as we don't have a car so it would be very difficult.

Wingdingdong Tue 17-Sep-13 12:03:39

YABU about 'overscheduled'. For all you know, it may be that the parent asking you has two children who each do one extracurricular activity a week and it so happens they're both the same evening. If that parent has therefore asked if they can swap groups in order to accommodate both children's chosen activity, YABVU to take umbrage at a parent trying to find a workable solution.

YABU about 5 mins early or late if it's due to school pick-ups. I have friends whose DC arrives 5 mins late for an activity because their older sibling needs picking up from a different school at a different time.

YANBU about parents wanting to leave early or late in order to fit in more than one activity on the same evening for the same child.

Also YANBU about anything that's a significant proportion of the session time - more than 10 mins out of an hour session is rude on the part of the parent and disruptive to everyone else.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 17-Sep-13 12:15:36


There are several girls in my dds dancing class who change into Brownie uniform and go straight there from dancing which they have attended from 4.30 /6.30. Brownies starts at 6.30 so they arrive 10 mins late every week.
I agree it is over scheduled and too much for the majority of dc.
They should be taught that you can't do everything and sometimes you need to choose.
These girls arrive home at gone 8pm having not had tea, but a quick snack in the car.

titchy Tue 17-Sep-13 12:20:54

Russians, I can absolutely guarantee that my dcs' confidence and life skills have most definitely come from their participation in Guides/Scouts, not their music lessons and ensembles, Latin lessons and sports clubs, all which they also do (every bloody week) to a reasonable level.

(And yes guilty of over-scheduling!)

Bonsoir Tue 17-Sep-13 12:22:46

I'm not at all keen on DCs doing more than one after school activity per evening, for a whole host of reasons. And I like to keep one evening per week free for ad hoc stuff that crops up - dentist, doctor, ophthalmologist, orthodontist, optician, clothes and shoe shopping...

NoComet Tue 17-Sep-13 12:26:11

Guiding and scouting are great, I agree with all the comments that you learn more life skills than ballet etc.

DD2 still gave up scouts because all it fun Saturday things clashed with ballet show rehearsals. (Meetings weren't great didn't get in eith boys/new leader)

I wish she'd go back, or consider going with her Y7 friends to guides.

DD1 is a Ranger and gets up to all sorts of things.

As for accommodating requests, I think it depends on how awkward it is.

Our Guides do have latecomers in their school clothes, because local private school has boarders and does traditional evening prep.

Personally I think that's fair enough, those girls still want to do things with their primary friends. They are older and they settle quickly and quietly into their activities.

NoComet Tue 17-Sep-13 12:27:05

get on with the boys (sorry stupid kindle)

morethanpotatoprints Tue 17-Sep-13 12:44:58

I think that all the activities listed enhance life skills in some way or other. It is useless being able to put up a tent if you want to dance and likewise dance is useless if you need to put up a tent.
I also agree with the poster who said that many of the activities dc do are nightmares inflicted by the parents grin.

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