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After-school activities. How much is too much?

(32 Posts)
oxocube Mon 12-May-03 13:30:40

Sorry if this has been covered before but did search and couldn't find it. Can I ask you how many, if any, afterschool activities your kids go to each week. My dd is 5 and 1/2 and is beginning ballet this week and last year, she went to a gymnastics class once a week. D.s , almost 8, goes to football training once a week and plays every Saturday morning. Last week, dd had her friend who is the same age as her round to tea, and I was really surprised to find out just how many activities she went to each week. I think it was a min of 4 and sometimes 5! She (the friend) goes to swimming class, gym club, ballet and an art class. Quite apart from the fact that her mum be a miracle worker as she has another dd, aged 2 1/2, what do you all think about so many organised activities?

If my dd doesn't have friends round after school, I must admit her favourite hobby is watching telly, so maybe she would be better off if I 'organised' her social life a bit more! But a bigger part of me feels that kids need time off to do their own thing or to learn to occupy themselves. What do you all think?

WideWebWitch Mon 12-May-03 13:53:16

Oxocube, I agree and think children need time to do their own thing too. My ds (5.5 too) has NO organised after school activities. We tried swimming but he really didn't want to go and I didn't want to force him so most days it's just us at home. Sometimes we cook, sometimes he plays on his own, sometimes we buy sweets and have a home cinema afternoon, sometimes dp takes him to the park and sometimes we don't do anything very exciting. Sometimes he has friends round for tea or he goes to someone else for tea but no, I don't think he needs organising for the moment. He has friends who are busy 5 nights a week though. Mmm, not sure what I think about that really, we didn't do it in my day

Slinky Mon 12-May-03 13:58:50

My DD1 (although older at 7.5) has swimming on Monday evening, Brownies on Fridays, football training on Fridays after school and Dancing on Saturday mornings.

DD1 (5.5) has just swimming on Mondays - he is desperate to go to a football club, but the school one starts from Year 1 and I can't find one locally that has spaces.

The rest of the time is taken up with having/visiting friends, and just generally "chilling-out" round the house. DD2 really misses the other 2 when they are at school, so they generally all play around together.

Jaybee Mon 12-May-03 14:13:50

The school my two attend have a few after school activities througout the week although they are only about 45 mins each.
Ds who is 9 does football training on a Monday (not school), Athletics on a Tuesday (school), Thursday is cricket (not school), Saturday football and Sunday rugby - Wednesday tends to be mates day - needless to say we struggle to fit in his homework!! This is extreme at the moment as we currently have the summer and winter sport overlap - rugby finished this weekend so at least we will get Sundays free.
Dd who is 6 does Art club on a Monday (school), ballet on a Wednesday (not school) and swimming on a Saturday. Plus she wants to start Brownies in September.
I have just realised why I never seem to have time to hoover!!

judetheobscure Mon 12-May-03 15:13:09

Dd (age 7) has horse riding and "fitzone" (after-school activity club) in the week plus swimming on Saturday.
Ds1 (5) has football in the week and swimming on Saturday.
Ds2 (3) has football (with his brother - that's the only reason he does it as I would not have been able to get ds1 to go otherwise) and swimming.
Ds4 (20 months) has nothing, poor soul.

I know so many mums with children younger than mine (ie 15 months ish) who go to TumbleTots, swimming, Monkey Music and toddler groups. When do the children get a chance to play by themselves?

Tinker Mon 12-May-03 15:55:51

Agree with www here. My 6 year old does NOTHING after school and neither did I at here age (oh, except ballet for a year or so). Have just put her name down for swimming lessons but that's because I wouldn't be seen dead in a swimming pool and thought she'd better learn. Other than that, nada. And I don't feel guilty, would have hated to have had my daydreaming time interrupted with activites when I was a kid.

scoobysnax Mon 12-May-03 17:29:52

Some parents seem very competitive about doing zillions of after school activities. I think this can be quite stressful for the kids.
The best balance probably depends on the individual but IMO less can be more...

tallulah Mon 12-May-03 18:00:26

My kids have never been into activities. DD went to Rainbows then Brownies then Guides & only gave up (as Young Leader) last summer at 16.5. She used to do piano at school & did karate from about 10 to 12.

DS1 went to Beavers, then Cubs- which he hated & gave up. He's been doing ballet once a week since he was 11- goes up to twice a week for shows & exams.

DS2 briefly did karate, got fed up, did judo, got fed up & now does nothing.

DS3 started ballet at 7 with his brother & that's all he does.

I, on the other hand, went to ballet, tap, modern, Brownies/Guides, piano- all at the same time, from about 6 until I left home at 20. I went through a phase at primary/early secondary when I didn't have an evening free. I loved it, & can't understand my sloth-like children wanting to roll about the house all the time!

kmg1 Mon 12-May-03 18:17:08

Mine do nothing. DS1 is nearly 6, but he is completely shattered after school, he's fit for nothing. He doesn't even have friends round after school. He has so little time at home anyway - he's in bed for 13 hrs a night, and school is 20 mins walk away ...

He wants to go to Beavers, but it's just too late for him at the moment. Do what's right for your children now, there's plenty of time for them to do stuff when they're ready.

(DS1 does do swimming, but we get up on a Sunday morning to do that, as I know he wouldn't have the energy after school.)

sis Mon 12-May-03 20:10:15

phew! I thought I was asking for trouble by looking at this thread but am relieved that ds is not the only child with no afterschool activities - his social life consists of playing with the other children at his childminders.

XAusted Mon 12-May-03 20:55:44

My dd (6) has recently started ballet lessons which takes up half an hour once a week. That seems plenty to me. I think parents can get carried away organising a packed schedue for kids, convinced that they must play an instrument, dance, compete in at least one sport, etc, by age 3. Sometimes we have a school friend to play with dd after school but more usually at weekends. She goes to bed at 7 so there's not time for much else. School is next to park so sometimes we have half an hour there before going home but that's just play, not an organised thing.

CAM Mon 12-May-03 21:04:15

My 6 yr old dd has speech and drama once a week and gym club once a week (after school and term-time only), ballet once a week (not at school but still term-time only. She also has weekly one-to-one piano lessons and weekly one-to-one singing lessons (during school time and term-time only). What makes you think she wants to be on the stage?

SueW Mon 12-May-03 21:06:29

My DD does dancing on Saturday morning and swimming on Sunday morning. She does nothing after school but on Mondays she has to go to after-school care as I help with the Beavers at school. From September, she will come to Beavers. She does Speech and Drama (at her insistence) but that takes place in school time, as does the ballet class she attends on Wednesday lunchtime.

Next year her school will introduce her to the recorder and from Y3 to a 'real' musical instrument. Also from Y3 the school organises lots of after-school activities itself so I'm sure it will naturally evolve.

crystaltips Mon 12-May-03 21:16:01

My kids activities vary from term to term. One minute they get home and collapse in a heap and the next they ask can they do swimming again.

I usually book them in for a block session and when it comes to renewal time it's their choice as to whether or not they want to continue.

WInter months tend to be less active that the summer time - probably something to do with getting home in the dark ( my sentiments exactly )

Linnet Mon 12-May-03 21:18:47

My dd is 5.5 and goes to ballet on a Monday after school for 45 minutes and Gymnastics for an hour on a Thrusday after school. She's been going to the gymnastics class since she was 2 started off as baby gymnastics and she's stuck with it. She's been at ballet since she was 3. My dh and I don't have the time to take her to more activities due to work commitments but we think that two classes a week are enough for her. When she is a little older she will maybe to go to extra dance classes like Highland or jazz but at the moment she is quite happy with just her ballet and gymnastics. I actually started her at gymnastics so that we could get out more and meet other mothers and children.

tigermoth Tue 13-May-03 00:50:51

this is all really interesting. I went to lots of dance, music, art and drama classes as a child. My ds (9) does not do quite as many activites as me. I didn't have any homework, he has about 3 -5 hours a week.

My ds currently goes to swimming, judo and cubs once a week as well as weekly football caoching at school. He also goes to a fossil collectors club once a month. In the school holidays, he has gone on a few art/sport courses.

We do not go to anything slavishly each week. I aim for a 75% attendance rate. If he is tired or something else crops up, I don't mind him missing a session.

Swimmming lessons are the bane of my life. They last for just half an hour so me and the 3 year old have to wait around for him - no time to go home. My son plays out and by the age of 12 or so will want to go fishing with his friends. I feel he has to be a safe strong swimmer by then if not before. He likes sailing, too, so he's got to be able to swim well. We only started swimming lessons a year ago. My son was never that keen on them and I hoped the school swimming lessons would be sufficient. When I realised they were not, I booked him up for a term of lessons thinking that would be it. He is making progress but we aer now onto our third term!

I really urge everyone to get the swimming thing out of the way early. After the age of 8, more and more activities are open for children. If they can swim then your time is freed up.

I heard some really worrying news from a friend about extra curricular activities. She said some secondary schools place great importance on a child's involvment in activities outside school. Excelling in something is seen as a sign of the childn't motivation and the parent's commitment to the education of the child. Consequently parents of some Year 5s start enrolling their children in all and sundry.

suedonim Tue 13-May-03 04:14:55

DD1 attended Brownies, then gave it up when we moved. She has take up dance since reaching senior school age. DD2 did a weekly ballet class in Scotland and now has one after-school activity here. She swims twice a week with the school curriculum, but that is part of the school day. We tend to be a chill-out family, I must admit!

JJ Tue 13-May-03 08:14:56

tigermoth, the swimming thing is so good to read. My son (5 yo) takes swimming lessons once a week -- he loves it, although it wears him out a bit. It's important to us that he swims as during the summer he's around water a lot. The only other thing he takes is Swiss German. He really really wanted to take the lessons and they are very flexible, ie I can cancel a week with no penalties. He loves those, too, although I'm not sure how much he's picking up.

I'll let him try anything once (it's usually ok to try before you buy here). It does seem that more than 2 lessons / week for him are too much. And more than one other playdate is pushing it for him. (The swim lesson day incorporates a playdate.)

Oxocube, I agree with the "kids need time off" idea. It's fun to see what my sons do on their own. Yesterday the 5 yo shut himself in a little box, then asked me to roll it over so that the flaps were under him. He stayed in there for almost twenty minutes singing, talking to himself and eating an apple. Then he got himself out, moved the box out of the sun and repeated the process (except he didn't eat another apple). Now that I'm typing this down, I'm glad that no one showed up at the house unexpectedly. Might have looked a little weird.

CAM Tue 13-May-03 08:17:43

I do agree with Tigermoth about swimming. I took my dd to mother and baby sessions every week from the age of 5 months and extra fun sessions with me at our health club, at 2 she had progressed to proper swimming lessons in the water without mummy with the 4 year olds. At 4 she attained her 100 metres and now, aged 6 swims in the second-to-top ability group at school weekly with the 9 year olds.

beetroot Tue 13-May-03 09:01:33

Message withdrawn

RushingAround Tue 13-May-03 09:17:44

Glad this thread has come up coz I've been mulling this over too, getting paranoid when I hear how much other kids seem to be doing already. Ds is 5.5 and doesn't do any extra stuff. I just feel that it's nice to enjoy time at home, have friends round, and go swimming ourselves. Anyhow, I need to justify all the toys I keep picking up at car boot sales!
I've always thought of 6 as a 'magic age' when he'll start things like football and music.
Will start dd (2.5) on ballet soon tho' I think ...

SueW Tue 13-May-03 09:36:03

JJ, my daughter is box mad. In fact, yesterday she asked me when I could get another box for her.

We had a new TV about a month ago and the box was huuuuuge. DD had it on the landing and she and her friends would disappear into there. They drew pictures on the 'walls'; they had a booklight poking through the top to give them some more light and a torch by their side. They covered the whole thing up with a sheet they dragged out of the playchest.

It's a shame the supermarkets insist on crushing all their boxes immediately now. Locally all have withdrawn boxes, apparently they are a fire hazard

janh Tue 13-May-03 09:49:52

One word of caution from a very jaundiced parent - don't assume that what they do as primary school children, however enthusiastic they are, will continue once they hit adolescence (except probably football for a lot of boys and dancing for some girls).

As tigermoth says swimming is really important and the earlier they learn the better, but for everything else just enjoy their enjoyment now, and if they do keep up their interest it's a bonus. (So those kids who prefer to chill out aren't really going to miss out in the long run!)

tigermoth Tue 13-May-03 10:41:05

Also, to all you with 5 year olds, really don't worry about doing too little after school. Going on my experience, it wasn't until my son was about 6 or 7 that he had the energy and inclination after a school day to go on to a another class. He did the odd after-school activity but if he'd had 3 or 4 a week, he would have been exhausted. The first extra curricular classes he went to were held at weekends - a far better time for younger childrern IMO.

What do you all do about dropping classes? we have reached a crossroads: My son is not that sporty, is really not good at football, plods along with his swimming lessons, is better at judo and cricket, though, yet somehow by accident most of his after school activities revolve around sport. His teacher says he is more into singing, music, english and drama at school, yet at the moment there aren't enough hours in the week to get him to classes. He is on the waiting list for a good children's local drama group. If and when he is offered a place, something will have to go.

Also do you find it hard to decide what your child really wants? my son tells me he's good at sport. He always says he doesn't want to do any new activity I suggest, but if he tries it, he usually likes it. From time to time I get positive or negative feedback from the teachers, and even if they say my son was messing around (cubs being a case in point) my son still tells me he wants to keep going.

He is adament he doesn't want to do drama, art, singing or music, but hasn't really tried any of them properly yet apart from a term of drama when he was 7.

suedonim Tue 13-May-03 13:28:59

Boxes, yes! DD loves them too, and it's better still if she can entrap the cat with her.

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