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Choosing extra-curriculars: When Good is Bad

  • September 12, 2016
  • By Donielle

We just went through that very painful process that must be undergone every school year – choosing extra-curricular activities.  When I was homeschooled there were few activities and resources available.

One of my dolls once asked if she could play hockey or golf. Why? She wanted to play a sport where she could hit something with a stick!

One of my dolls once asked if she could play hockey or golf. Why? She wanted to play a sport where she could hit something with a stick!

Nowadays there is so much out there for homeschoolers that we have a very hard time not overscheduling!  Band?  Dance?  Martial arts?  P.E.?

Sewing?  Drama?  Sports?  Science activities?  Art lessons?  Yes to all of it!  If only there was enough time and money to try everything.  But, there is not.  An overscheduled kid is one that misses out on the joys and wonders of childhood.  There must be unstructured time to play and discover, particularly outdoors.  So what is an ambitious parent to do?

Remember this:  Good is the enemy of the best.  There are many things that would be good for our kids.  Our job is to sift through and find the best.  Here are a few guidelines I use personally:

  1.  Does this fit into our goals for our family?  Prayerfully consider what the long term plan is for your family spiritually, educationally and physically.  (See my post on long-term educational planning here)

    The classic piano recital

    The classic piano recital

  2. Does this activity fit this child’s particular needs, interests or possible career path?  Note to parents of large families: we children of large families would like you to know that even though having all the kids engage in the same activity is convenient for you, it may be a waste of your money.  Some of your children secretly hate it and are afraid to tell you, for fear of hurting your feelings.  Note to vendors who offer classes and services to homeschoolers:  Sibling discounts are very attractive to homeschool families!  Note to all parents:  Make sure you are not living vicariously through your child and enrolling them in activities that you were denied as a kid or keeping them from an activity because you had a bad experience with it.  Pray for wisdom and look for God to reveal your kid’s unique gifts and talents to you.
  3. Does this fit into the budget?  If you simply do not have the time or the money, there is nothing to be gained by straining the family finances and resources.  Children must also learn the tough lesson of saying no to what we want to do, in order to do what we must do.  And when we do commit
    Sewing lessons pay off when making Christmas gifts!

    Sewing lessons pay off when making Christmas gifts!

    to an activity, a parent needs to enforce practice time and sit in on some lessons to make sure you are getting the most for your money.

  4. Do we want our child to spend a lot of time with the teachers and other children involved in this activity?  Some great activities are not well supervised and other children are permitted to be disrespectful.  We have declined activities where tweens were pairing off and declaring themselves in relationships that overshadowed the value of the education to us.  Protecting our children is our job.  No one else will do it for us.
  5. Make adjustments and cut out activities if needed.  Do not burn yourself or your kids out.  Graciously bowing out of a commitment is sometimes better than staying involved in something that is making your family miserable.  Knowing when to cut your losses is as valuable a lesson as finishing what you started.

We had to put off violin lessons for several years until we could pray for and find a reputable teacher that could come to the house for a reasonable price.  My family knows that lots of driving is stressful for me, so that also limits options.  Even though my girls are hilarious little actors, drama cannot be an every year activity because it consumes a great deal of time.  We have had to take a hiatus from our beloved P.E. programs, Saints International, because the increased workload, as the girls increase in grade, does not leave us enough time to devote three hours a week to it.

We did choose sewing lessons because it is endlessly practical, and very cheap for me, since I open my living room to host our group lessons.  Our girls play two instruments, so two lessons per week takes up most of the extra-curricular budget.  We are continuing with dance for the

Ballet for posture and coordination

Ballet for posture and coordination

exercise.   A  note on dance: Dance teachers and studios should be chosen carefully, too.  Look for healthy dancewear choices amongst the students and staff.  Avoid studios where the girls dress and dance like grown women.  Studies show that the over sexualization of young girls leads to body image issues and eating disorders.  These are a few of the practical things that we have considered in this year’s schedule.

Empower yourself to say no to lots of good things that do not align with your intentional choices for your family, so that you can afford to say yes to those few excellent choices that will pay off in the end!

By Donielle, September 12, 2016
  • 2
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  • Liz Lacy
    September 13, 2016

    A great reminder to order our days. To reevaluate every year. I think it is easy to think that because we have done “always” done it before that we should not change it up. What is right for our family this year, yes!!

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