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Validation needed: My 5 year old daughter just started full day kindergarten. Currently the only activity she is enrolled in is Daisy Scouts. In fact, the only other extra curricular activity she has every been involved in has been a two week swimming class, both because we don't have the funds and my husband and I both work full time. I hear from other parents that their children are involved in a variety of activities. My gut says this is enough, she will be doing more as she gets older, but am I putting her at a disadvantage?

Any insight on this is helpful. Thanks!


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
Totally enough. She'll let you know if/when she wants more.

In kinder my daughter did Daisies and a dance class once a week. (We are able to do dance for $40/yr, so it's not really a financial issue.) But when she went to first grade, she dropped dancing for a year because she didn't want to do it anymore. My son didn't have any extra curricular activities in kindergarten. We tend to keep it at scouts + 1, but that's what works for our family.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)
I think you need to do what fits for your family and not worry about others. We have friends with kids that are 5 (in Kinder) and just turned 4 and they've been doing 1-2 activities for several years. My daughter took Little Gym classes when she was a toddler but didn't like the independent classes where she went without a parent so she stopped at 3. She doesn't do any activities now and that's fine with all of us. We are looking at signing her up for something short (2 month long span of soccer or something) in the spring, but haven't decided for sure. Listening to our friends talk about how much they run their 4 and 5 year old around, it makes me glad that we aren't involved in anything right now.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
I think that is plenty. Lots of social interactiveness/activities at school let alone school and Daisy's for a 5 year old.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
My kids did neither of those. They were exhausted just with kindergarten and came home to play with dolls or legos and read books. About 4th. grade they got involved in scouts. In Jr. High and high school they did music(chorale) and theater (small plays every few months, a big one at the end of the year.)They all grew up to be fine healthy adults, all went on to college, into theater and music and art.

The kids I nanny are, in my opinion, 'overprogrammed'. They do piano, guitar and trombone plus band, Spanish lessons, soccer and hiking and bike riding and swimming on weekends, skiing in season.

I'd say follow your instincts. Be sure she has some exercise every day (doesn't have to be an 'organized' activity), some social and intellectual stimulation (scouts and school) and time to sit and dream (this is what I think is missing for a lot of kids).
Nov. 3rd, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you, she is a dreamer and loves to play, we do a lot of exercise outside.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
My 6 year old currently has one extra curricular (multiskills sports, 1 hr session per week). My 3 year old has none, school based nursery exhausts him enough. I'd quite like my eldest to attend Beaver scouts or similar but he prefers not to yet. Go with your gut, if your child seems happy and fulfilled and isn't clamouring to Do All The Things, why worry?
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, I forgot. One thing important to me is getting to spend family time together that isn't regulated or built around any particular activity or event. I would be loath to totally fill their calendars with organised activities even if money was no object, I really do value time doing not-much-at-all with them when they are little.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:35 pm (UTC)
Just because other parents have scheduled every second of their child's week doesn't mean that's necessarily the best thing, kwim? There's a lot to be said for allowing kids time to play independently. Unstructured play allows them to find ways to entertain themselves (instead of always depending on someone else to provide an activity) and explore their world. I can't imagine what sort of "disadvantage" you'd be putting your child at by not over-scheduling her.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC)
she's fine...last year, when my daughter was in Kindergarten, she started Daisy scouts and took a combo dance class (once a week- tap and ballet) then after a few weeks quit Daisy scouts because she didn't like it- all they did with the kids was have them color rexos (just pull out sheets from coloring books) so all she had was the dance class really and it was fine, with full day Kindergarten and homework and everything, she was usually so tired by 3pm
Nov. 3rd, 2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
That's sad. Daisys have so much more to do! We work our daisy butts off on community service, learning, and fun!!! I'm sad you had a bad experience!
Nov. 3rd, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
There is such a thing as being overextended for kids. Is your daughter happy? If so, then don't worry about it. Kids have their whole lives ahead of them. I don't get trying to cram it all in while they're kids.

But, I also get the worry. I'm experiencing the same with our 4-year-old. So, I'm just trying to focus on what I can do for her within our means. We don't have the funds to do much either.

And I remind myself that a lot of the greatest leaders of all time did not have four sports, two art classes, piano lessons, and Scouts. ;)
Nov. 3rd, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
There's always trips to the library, a new playground, even walks in the woods looking at different plants and birds, things that don't cost and best of all, it's family time away from TV!
Nov. 4th, 2012 12:51 am (UTC)
as a librarian it makes me happy to hear you say that. :-)
Nov. 4th, 2012 01:15 am (UTC)
My 2 year old and I love checking out different libraries! We've found some pretty nifty kid areas. :) Books are her absolute FAVORITE thing ever, and she'll sit and "read" to herself or better yet, ask us to read book after book after book...

Love it.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 05:05 pm (UTC)
I think one activity per kid per season is enough. (So like if she was into baseball, which is spring, then she could also do basketball, which is winter).
Nov. 3rd, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
My kids are older - 10, 8 and 6 - and they still only do one activity at a time. Right now it's one session per week (an hour long) at the rec center. My daughter does ballet/tap and my sons do ju jitsu.

They have cousins that have their schedules drawn out for them every second of every day. Their parents flaunt all that the kids do, but can never take a second to breathe because they are always running here or there. They complain when others talk about date nights and things of that sort because they can never do it, they are always "stuck" running around town for a sporting event. They scoff at the idea of family vacations because they can't pull away from a sports schedule long enough to make one happy.

Yeah, no. That's not right for me or my kids. My children are extremely important to me, but I have worth too. I have to do what makes EVERYONE in my house feel comfortable, important and happy.

Do what works for you! :)
Nov. 3rd, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
it makes me sad to hear that they can't do family vacations. I appreciate your comments, thank you!
Nov. 3rd, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
We try to have one activity at a time. Currently my daughter is in weekly ballet, that will soon be wrapping up. After the holidays, we will probably start her in a session of swimming. Maybe she can do soccer or a sport in spring. So, we aim for a variety of activities, but one at a time.

Also, my daughter is now one of three. So, it can't be all about carting her around, even if that were our inclination (which it isn't).
Nov. 3rd, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC)
I think that's fine. My five year old has only ever done one activity at a time.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
That's fine. Up until this year (my 7yo stared gymnastics in September), mine have never been involved in extracurricular activities (they're 7 and 10), so you're one step ahead of us. I wouldn't say you're putting her at a disadvantage. You have to take the rest of her life into account. There are so many other things outside of structured activities that children learn from.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
Your kid will tell you what she needs. My kid is an extrovert & I'm an introvert. She NEEDS to be around people, and I am not capable of setting up the daily playdates. We compromise with activities. So she's one of those kids that people claim is "over scheduled" (last night, we did a GS Cookie Booth Sale from 5pm-7pm, after which I immediately took her to a GS Chorus sleepover, and when I picked her up at 8:30am this morning we ran immediately to a soccer game, after which I dropped her off at her Lego Robotics club. We got home at 1:45pm. Crazy, right? Except she loves it, and jumps on all these opportunities).

If we lived in a more kid-friendly neighborhood and she could get her social needs met by just going outside, that would be awesome. If she were less of an extrovert, that would be awesome (for me :) ). But as I have learned when I've put my foot down and instituted limits on activities, your kid will make Very Clear what she wants and needs. If you're happy and your kid's happy, the odds are what you're doing is working.

I guarantee my kid will not have an advantage over your kid because she's done bunches of activities. She has friends who do 1 or 2 activities, or even nothing, and they're all fine. If anything, finding a hobby that one likes and sticking with it is what provides an advantage. So in HS, my kid might do better on swim team than a kid who's only done summer swim, because she'll have logged a lot more swimming hours. But only if she keeps it up. If she stops this year, then her swimming year round from ages 5-9 won't make a hill of beans of difference come HS. Her friend who only does year-round-swim + soccer has much better swim times than my daughter does. :)
Nov. 3rd, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
wow, that schedule would exhaust me too and I am an extrovert! But I appreciate what you are saying, it makes me feel better!
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:23 am (UTC)
You are an amazing mom. I was very much an extrovert as a kid, and my mother is extremely introverted, but she didn't make any effort to accommodate my needs (which were to socialize with other kids and get out of the house). She didn't like leaving the house, and getting her to give me a ride to the library, which was a mile and a half away, was a Herculean effort. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being awesome.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:18 am (UTC)
I can barely fathom doing ONE activity with kids, let alone several. When I was a kid, we did nothing and WE LIKED IT. My daughter is in half-day kindergarten and we just joined 4-H (which meets once a month, plus some extra activities and working in the community garden plot here and there); that's plenty for us.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
oh I looked for 4H programs! I'd love it if my daughter did that. so fun. i bet she loves it.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:33 am (UTC)
I think that people that put their kids into more things than that are putting them at more of a disadvantage by not letting them be kids and have downtime. Don't worry about others. My son just does Kindermusik outside of full day Kindergarten.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
Let me rephrase that because thats sounds rude - I think that people that put their kids into a thousand things and micromanage their kids' days are putting them at a disadvantage. I know that some kids NEED that kind of interaction and outlet...but more often than not its the parents doing it, not the kids asking for it.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:14 pm (UTC)
I understand what you mean, I am really going to try and not get my kids into every single activity. You all have made me feel better.
Nov. 4th, 2012 03:14 am (UTC)
I think it depends on the kid. My 4 year old goes to daycare preschool from 8-5 5 days a week. She started dance once a week at 2.5 years. We added swim this summer because we had no more dance. Once dance started in September she begged us to keep swimming too, despite us thinking it might be too much for her. But she's handled it well. She loves the structure and predictability. She knows Tuesdays are swim days, Wednesdays are dance days, and Fridays are grandma and grandpa's day to pick up. She knows Sundays are walking/running days. Not all kids are as OCD as mine. In kindergarten Daisies is enough to add to structured curriculum. Your daughter will tell you if she needs more.
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