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Which activities are, in your opinion, worth it?

(59 Posts)
Sorelip Thu 20-Feb-14 14:52:33

I never took part in any extra-curricular activities when I was a child. DS1 only turned 2 in December, so obviously he won't be starting any activities just yet, but I want to do my homework before signing up for anything in future. I'm not sporty, musical, or anything really, so I have no real bias.

So, in your opinion, which activities are worth doing?

Lottiedoubtie Thu 20-Feb-14 14:53:52

I'd look at waiting lists for beavers and get him in the loop for that when he is old enough.

And swimming, as I think it's an important skill which if he enjoys could turn into a great hobby too.

nagynolonger Thu 20-Feb-14 14:54:46

Swimming. Other things like music are nice if you can afford it but swimming is a must IMO.

Thumbwitch Thu 20-Feb-14 15:01:07

Swimming definitely. Just purely from a safety point of view, but not necessarily just yet, although I started Ds1 on baby swimming when he was 4mo. Had to stop it when he was a year old, as he got more and more upset going - then started again when he was nearly 4.

I put DS1 into football (Little Kickers) when he was 2 3/4, because he loved football, has a useful left foot, and he needed to learn some "discipline" (listening and learning to do what he's told by other people).
I also put him into dancing when he was 3, to learn co-ordination, balance and more "discipline". He still does both of these at 6.

When he's a little older, probably 7, I'd like him to do a music lesson - his choice of piano or guitar - I'd prefer piano as it helps with using both hands effectively, but up to him.

So at least a team/group activity, and a safety activity would be my recommendation - and then music is just a nice add-on if you can afford it.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Thu 20-Feb-14 15:03:39

I'm like you with no bias at all. I did feel swimming was essential, as much for social reasons as for safety, so apart from that I went with the DCs interests as they grew up.

I think the key thing is to check out what's on offer for any interests they do have. And let them try different things.

DS1 did football because all his friends were, but hated it. He eventually tried Tae-Kwondo and loved it.

Also look ahead, I put DSs name down for Cubs in good time or he wouldn't have got a place. Ditto DD and Rainbows.

Turned out mine are all into music, music lessons have been well worth it for us. DS 1 and DD started lessons at 8 on orchestral instruments, DS2 started piano at 6 because he was absolutely desperate.

cazzybabs Thu 20-Feb-14 15:04:50


Pascha Thu 20-Feb-14 15:08:35

Swimming here too. DS1(3.5) also does Rugbytots because its something DH can take him to on a saturday morning.

I would say at this point just pick activities you can get to easily and don't hate, give them a try for a lesson, a term, a few weeks, carry on if DC likes it, choose something else if not.

I like the Beavers idea as well when they are old enough.

Olivegirl Thu 20-Feb-14 15:17:44

Swimming would be top of the
I have older teenagers now

I would be worried if they were not strong swimmers with them both going off on holidays with friends etc

HappyAsEyeAm Thu 20-Feb-14 15:18:12

I am the same as you, and I have basically just let Ds1 do nothing but school for his reception year as it exhausted him, and it allowed us to be free and easy and have children over for tea after school, pop into the park or the library after school etc whenever it suited us.

He is in year one now and just turned 6. This year, he has started weekly swimming lessons, a monthly cooking club and is registered for beavers. He loves cooking and is really into singing, the make up of an orchestra, the types of instruments he can hear in pieces etc. DS1 is not at all sporty, so I haven't pushed him towards that. He is also on the waiting list for music lessons, and while he waits, I will see if he is showing any leaning towards a particular instrument. The teacher teaches all sorts of instrument, which makes it easier.

There is plenty of time imo for them to join clubs and build hobbies. I didn't start anything like this until I was at least 6, and then I did dance, gymnastics, brownies etc and later on, violin and drama.

EarlGreyCuppa Thu 20-Feb-14 15:19:51

Swimming and an instrument. We started swimming lessons after 3 yrs old (until they were confident and strong-ish), piano around 7 yrs old.

lunar1 Thu 20-Feb-14 15:21:26

Swimming in non negotiable in our house too.

Sorelip Thu 20-Feb-14 15:38:41

Swimming is top then, and that makes sense to me. I notice that no one has mentioned a language yet. I'd never even heard of beavers before this thread, but have just looked them up. How soon do I need go register DS?

Thanks everyone BTW, this is the kind of advice I just can't get IRL.

PeterParkerSays Thu 20-Feb-14 15:41:11

Our Beavers have a waiting list of 12 months or so so I'd put your DS's name down when he starts school if you're keen for him to attend the troupe nearest to you.

saintlyjimjams Thu 20-Feb-14 15:44:58

Depends on the child. Let him choose.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 20-Feb-14 15:45:41

I think they are all worth it depending on what your dc enjoy doing.
We personally didn't see any benefit in swimming lessons as dcs friends tended to still be going and their parents still paying many years later shock. They are all good swimmers though, went with school, during half term holidays, summer holidays, lessons of dh and friends etc. You don't need to pay.

ivykaty44 Thu 20-Feb-14 15:46:04

swimming is the only activity that I planned to do with my dc's. Everything else was because they showed an interest when it was either offered or a friend was truing that activity.

From swimming dd1 did french club, ballet and went on to brownies, drama club, rugby and a bit of karate

dd2 swam for 6-7 years and went on to do running, triathlon, drama theatre, and cycling, she cycles now but different disciplines and is participating in d of e at school

Lottiedoubtie Thu 20-Feb-14 15:47:43

How soon do I need go register DS?

Really depends on the area, some areas you could ring up and he could start next week (if he were old enough) others and you need to do it several years in advance.

I'd ask around local friends or else try and find a number to ring and ask about waiting lists.

bakingtins Thu 20-Feb-14 15:48:54

Swimming - mine have been every week from being babies and can give up or continue when they can swim 100m.
Otherwise with their interests, my 7 yr old does a Saturday group music lesson where he learns recorder, ukulele, guitar and keyboard, and an after-school free multisports session.
3 yr old does swimming and a music (singing, roleplay) class.
Once they get into Y1 (agree with prev comments about being tired in YR) there are often free or low cost activities offered by school. My 7 yr old has been able to try lots of things offered by the leisure centres in the holidays. He has done a couple of weeks a year of tennis camp in the summer.

lechers Thu 20-Feb-14 19:42:35

I'm going to go against the grain here, and if I had my time again, I wouldn't waste money on swimming lessons when they're too young.

I wasted hundreds of pounds on swimming lessons when DD1 was little, but she never really progressed. So I left it. Then, the summer before she started learning with the school, I paid for 10 private lessons. She learnt more in those private lessons, than in the years of weekly lessons / intensives that she had had at 4/5/6. When she did start learning with the school (after her 10 private lessons) she was then put into the middle group, and bypassed a whole load of children who had been having their weekly lessons for years. Also, the two children who were the best swimmers in her class, had never had swimming lessons either (they simply swam lots with parents).

Whilst I agree that it is important to learn to swim, I not entirely convinced on the merits of teaching children too young. I know I wasted hundreds upon hundreds of pounds, and with DD2 waited until she was much older. She learnt to swim in a few months, and again is a better swimmer than many of her friends who paid out ££££ for lessons from toddlerhood. She's having lessons with the school this summer, but I won't shell out on weekly lessons, I'll pay for 10 private lessons. In my experience, children make much more progress this way, and it saves money. (Both my children swim at least level 4).

Beyond that, follow your child's interests. My children are quite active, so I sent them to gymnastics. Both girls love that. They also dance, and they learn an instrument too. But that's what they've fallen into rather than having any great plan.

ThatBloodyWoman Thu 20-Feb-14 19:45:26

cooking club
chess club
gardening club
cross country

Suttonmum1 Thu 20-Feb-14 19:51:10


Beavers/Cubs/Scouts etc

A musical instrument they can play with others (orchestral or band) but would check out local opportunities before I chose.

Would also look at local sports clubs and choose the best run one or logistically easiest and then try that sport first.

Languages sound good in theory but the level of immersion needed to progress well isn't achieved by half an hour a week in my opinion. True kids learn languages faster when young, but that works for say a Polish kid at your school/nursery who is immersed in English every day, not an English speaker learning a few songs once a week.

chauffeurmummy Thu 20-Feb-14 21:46:08

I agree not to start swimming too young (unless it's a particular interest of yours of course). My dd didn't start until she was 4 but was very quickly in a class with children that had been swimming for over a year. I think they need a certain level of coordination and strength to progress which they just don't have when they are very little. 3 years later my dd swam 400m and is stage 5 so she wasn't disadvantaged.

Misfitless Thu 20-Feb-14 21:47:36

It's not for every child, but I can't sing the praises of Beavers, Cubs and Scouts enough, for both boys and girls.

DS 8yrs has been in a football team since Y2, and was in Beavers, is now in Cubs.

DD 4yrs goes to ballet.

DD 6yrs goes to Beavers and is about to join a drama group.

I did try swimming lessons for DS in his pre-school year, but we gave it up when he was in YR as he was too tired.

I'm going to look into blocks of private lessons for my DCs, as was suggested up thread. The quality of the teaching and the progress made was always lacking when I used to pay for swimming lessons in the past.

rideyourbike Thu 20-Feb-14 21:54:00

I have 6 year old twins. Dd does swimming, rainbows and dancing (ballet, tap and modern) 1 hour a week. Dis does swimming and boys brigade (which is like beavers but opportunity to learn a musical instrument I think). They chose to go to all of these, although I did encourage the swimming. Apart from that play dates and fun at home keep my 2 happy smile

Lancelottie Fri 21-Feb-14 00:36:37

For us, the 'thank goodness we did that' activities have been music, drama and sailing.

Music and drama give them ready-made social stuff at secondary (though I appreciate you're a good way off that yet).

Sailing (hired boats, local reservoir, nothing fancy) gives antisocial DS1 a breath of fresh air and a distraction from teenage angst.

Oh, and DS2 dances (he started at 14 and wishes he'd done it earlier).

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