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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"

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

WhatchaMaCalllit Tue 17-Sep-13 11:21:21

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? 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 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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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)

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