Extra Curricular Activities for our Kids!

Posted by  | Monday, September 20, 2010  at 2:16 PM  
This week's topic is addressing extra curricular activities for our kids. We're going to share what activities our kids participate in and how we try to balance it all! For our pre-school aged children, we'll define "extra-curricular" as out of the home activities, not related to "preschool." (Whether preschool takes place at home or in a school.)

First of all, we did not join any extra-curricular activities that cost money until Will was three. Prior to age three, activities consisted of free story times at the library, playdates, sunday school and trips to local kid friendly spots such as museums, pools, parks, etc.

My reasoning for this was two fold. First, I'm cheap! I was not willing to spend money prior to this age. It just did not seem worth it to me! Second, most activities for the under three crowd require a parent to participate (swim lessons, gymnastics, dance, etc.). Since I had two so close together, this would mean having someone else to watch Adeline. This is not easily arranged, so we opted to wait until they could each participate without a parent! They already interacted me all day, every day! Why would I pay for additional interaction that I could provide for free? :)

Our first extra curricular was swim lessons for Will. He took them the week after he turned three. Aside from Sunday school, this was his first chance to be in a class taught by someone other than myself! (And actually, I was his Sunday School teacher the year before as well!)





We took lessons at a city pool. They lasted for a week. Every day for one week during summer. Will was and is a FISH. Loves the water and was way ahead of the skills taught in this class. However, he struggled a TON with me "leaving" him in a class and having to follow the directions of someone else. He cried (no, screamed) for most class that week. But we stuck it out and with the help of his super patient teacher, he did make progress by the end of the week.




His teacher said that the young 3's typically struggle, especially if it is their first "class" of any kind. We did the next level lessons this summer (as a four year old) and Will did GREAT! He listened, didn't cry and obediently did the skills required. I could still tell he was the youngest in the class - but overall it was a much better experience. I don't regret our first swim lessons at age three at all. I think we would have had a similar experience had gymnastics been our first "class" for Will.

Will's next activity was gymnastics! I had wanted to start him in gymnastics for a long time - if you know Will, you understand why. :) But, at our local gym, he had to be 3.5 before he could take class without me. So we waited and started around January of this year. To say he loves gymnastics would be an understatement! We moved a few weeks before the gymnastics "year" ended, but we continued to drive about 20 minutes back to our old gym.

A few weeks after we moved to our new area, Will spotted a gym that is about 3 minutes from our house. He recognized the gymnasts on their sign and has begged me for more gymnastics! I finally got around to signing him up again just last week. He loved this gym even more! I did too, as their format for class was a full hour and very intense! I loved that his teacher required him to redo skills he rushed through - though she remained very patient as Will rushes through tasks often. :) Will was sweating when he was done! Woohoo!

In addition to the two weeks of swim lessons and gymnastics, Will has participated in AWANA Cubbies. I wrote about this last week, so I won't repeat it.

In our current fall schedule, this really means an hour of gymastics on a weekday morning and an hour and a half of AWANA on a weeknight. I think that is plenty for a four year old - even one who does not attend preschool out of the home. We still have plenty of time to do some homeschooling 4 days per week.

And of course, Adeline is just now 2.5, so we'll wait a little while longer. She will likely also do swim lessons next summer, Cubbies in the fall and possibly dance as well.

Here is a list of what I'm looking for in an extra curricular activity for my kids:

-a chance to practice obeying another adult.

-opportunities to practice appropriate social skills (big for Will who struggles with this!)

-good exercise! (also big for Will who has an abundance of energy)

-biggest bang for my buck!

As far as balancing our time in extra curricular activities - I don't have much advice. Mostly because my kids are still so young. Also, because we are very limited by finances! I am starting to see how much of a struggle it could be to say "no" to all the great opportunities that exist for our kids. At this point, I desire for the majority of our time to be at home.

Does anyone have any great advice for balancing extra curricular activities? Especially if you have school-aged children?

Please also share what activities your preschooler does and what you love about them!

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