How many activities for your kids?

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ClevrChico
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How many activities for your kids?

Post by ClevrChico »

How many activities do you allow your children to participate in? Has anyone found a good balance or is overwhelmed?

I'm in a growing area, and there seems to be a lot of pressure to place children into as many activities as possible. I have a preschooler in music and foreign language class. A grandparent has enrolled them in dance class. I'm shaking my head a bit as we haven't even started kindergarten yet.

We turned down three "designer" birthday parties this weekend. I've said no to soccer and karate already.

These activities can be expensive and transportation between suburbs very time consuming. I really value family time.

I'm missing the good old days in a small town where we'd pay $15 to the rec department, get a t-shirt, and play soccer after school.
remomnyc
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by remomnyc »

One activity at a time per child that required us to transport them (always on the weekend because we both work full-time) until they could travel on their own (middle school), but they did lots of activities directly after school that did not require us to chauffeur them.
stoptothink
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by stoptothink »

We're feeling this one right now. I have a 4yr old and a 13-month old. The neighbors want to know why our 4yr old isn't in soccer, gymnastics, t-ball, dance, etc. like all the other neighborhood kids. We gave her a choice and it came down to gymnastics and jui jitsu; my 4yr old daughter is starting jiu jitsu when we get back from our family vacation in a few weeks. We have one car and my wife and I both have demanding careers; our family time isn't going to be spent driving them back and forth to all their activities.
livesoft
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by livesoft »

I don't think my kid did any activities until they were in first grade. Then it was scouts (in the neighborhood), a sport (in the neighborhood), and school (in the neighborhood).

You can control where youth sports are practiced and played by being the coach which is pretty easy to do.

When I was a youth, my parents didn't drive me anywhere, but I rode my bike to activities: school, scouts, sports, jobs. Kids still do that nowadays.

Another idea is carpools. When I coached, many parents shared carpooling duties so less driving per family.
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TMCD75
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by TMCD75 »

This sounds like keeping up with the Jones, only you feel the pressure to have your kids keep up with their kids. That's suburban living IMO, I don't care much for it.

We are moving from the big city, Louisville area, to a small town in Western Kentucky. I can't wait, small town, rural community to be honest, is where we are headed. I've got a soon to be 8yr old and he's playing golf. He played about 3 years of baseball prior to this golf bug. I wouldn't be happy if I had neighbors telling me what activities to put my child in, none of their business.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

It's not an easy question to answer. In our town, the kids tend to specialize. So the varsity LaCrosse, football, baseball, soccer kids in high school started well before kindergarten and did all the preschool sports "camps", then once in school did all the extra teams/camps. Our first son was in soccer, spring soccer, went to indoor soccer in a league during the winter, went to soccer camps even during the soccer season, did summer soccer. Eventually, he was sick of soccer and switched to LaCrosse for a while, then became a skateboarder, downhill biker and did no further team sports.

I can see where a kid doing 9 activities could burn out or be overwhelmed. Our younger son did once the amount of homework got to be too much. From karate, scouts, guitar lessons, cameraman for the high school TV station and homework, he's now down to homework.
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GoldenFinch
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by GoldenFinch »

Below is a synopsis of the progression of our parenting through the years.

We had child #1 in our 20s, #2 and #3 in our 30s and child #4 in our 40s.

#1 was in a ridiculous number of activities, constantly, since birth.
#2 and 3 were in a reasonable number of activities.
#4 is lucky to be in one activity a season, and mostly does what we want to do.

Results so far: #1 did get a completely free ride to college, has multiple publications, multiple citations, has landed two paid internships, looks really good on LinkedIn and has straight As in college (one A-). Also is able to fully fund Roth IRA with money from (multiple) jobs and has read the Boglehead Wiki. Twenty years old.

#2 and #3 have been extremely difficult teenagers that have made me question, well, just about everything, but seem to be s l o w l y straightening out. I am hopeful. It is very hard.

#4 is just great to have around. We will be in our 60s when it's time for college. I refuse to ship this one off to activities and am not worried about negative consequences.
davebo
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by davebo »

With my oldest, we were starting to overdo it a bit with activities but have scaled back. Last spring my 6 year old was in t-ball (2 days a week), soccer (2 days per week), swimming (1 day per week), and our church club (awana). This year we cut out baseball and that freed up enough time for us.

I think there is a pressure to put them in and keep them in a lot of sports, but we are trying to mix it up quite a bit and allowing our kids to try new things and take breaks.
Angrypuppy
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Angrypuppy »

We have 10 and 13 year old boys.

They both do Scouts. One is a Cub and the other Boy Scouts. That's constant throughout the year.

They also both play a sport each season. Soccer in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. In between they take tennis lessons.

They are probably over scheduled, but boys get into trouble if they aren't.
jfave33
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by jfave33 »

Not needed at such a young age.
Loik098
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Loik098 »

GoldenFinch wrote:Below is a synopsis of the progression of our parenting through the years.

We had child #1 in our 20s, #2 and #3 in our 30s and child #4 in our 40s.

#1 was in a ridiculous number of activities, constantly, since birth.
#2 and 3 were in a reasonable number of activities.
#4 is lucky to be in one activity a season, and mostly does what we want to do.

Results so far: #1 did get a completely free ride to college, has multiple publications, multiple citations, has landed two paid internships, looks really good on LinkedIn and has straight As in college (one A-). Also is able to fully fund Roth IRA with money from (multiple) jobs and has read the Boglehead Wiki. Twenty years old.

#2 and #3 have been extremely difficult teenagers that have made me question, well, just about everything, but seem to be s l o w l y straightening out. I am hopeful. It is very hard.

#4 is just great to have around. We will be in our 60s when it's time for college. I refuse to ship this one off to activities and am not worried about negative consequences.
What a fantastic answer. You've got not only the perspective of having raised one child one way, but that of having raised others a different way. I'm just not sure of what to take away from the "results." :-)
daveydoo
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by daveydoo »

Personal decision, and it depends upon the kid; take these answers (and my answer) with a grain of salt. You and they will know when/if it's too many. But do make sure they have a broad enough sampling -- and not necessarily concurrently -- to find things (musical instrument, life-long sport, hobbies, even cultural/religious observance) they truly love and/or excel in. Our kids have jettisoned a bunch of less-rewarding ones over the years and really embraced some others. Those things have helped ground them -- and given them a sense of self -- through their transitions and the occasional tough times that all kids have. We've generally followed the kids' lead (their interests, not ours) and not pushed them; it had to "their" thing. My wife advocated for these and I could take or leave 'em, at the time. But she was 100% right about this (don't worry -- she doesn't read BH).
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celia
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by celia »

DH and I had fulltime jobs before, during, and after raising kids so we relied on daycare/preschool until they start Kinder. They made lots of friends there and had over 8 hours a day to do various activities with them. Then they continued in after-school day care until age 10 or 12 and they played games, sports, dance, and scouts after school on the school grounds (for extra costs at a church-related school). When old enough, we allowed them to walk home with each other when the activities were done.

In high school, the tuition included all extracurricular activities and sports except for shoes and sports uniform. Again they participated in clubs and sports after school and they waited for us to pick them up on our way home from work unless they chose to take the bus home.

Summers were always a challenge and I signed them up for various day camps and classes for kids according to their interests. They also spent a couple weeks at grandparents each year and with their parents :D on vacation in the summer.

They didn't participate in very many community classes until I felt they could walk to and from there safely (summers). Most of their activities were on their school grounds (there were years where they were each at a different school so we couldn't handle any more logistics than that).

They each went away to a different college according to their career interests.
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halfnine
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by halfnine »

livesoft wrote:I don't think my kid did any activities until they were in first grade.
This is the path we are on. Just lots of play inside and outside for now. Both with us and with their friends.
mouses
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by mouses »

As someone who grew up decades ago, I really don't understand this locking children into one activity after another, driving them all over the place leaving no time for creativity.

Also in response to the post immediately above, kids may do well with time by themselves. Forcing introverts into gregarious situations is not comfortable for them and will not change their personalities.
Levett
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Levett »

Mouses wrote:

"As someone who grew up decades ago, I really don't understand this locking children into one activity after another, driving them all over the place leaving no time for creativity."

My wife once asked me what do you grandpas talk about in the gym locker room other than sports and...

Well, anyway, I told her the single most frequent topic from grandpas (including me) is the over-programming of young children. Kids seem not to be able to be just kids, as we understood childhood. Many become almost parodies of mini-adulthood. This seems partly due to defensive parenting--parents fearing there's a kidnapper around every corner.

Sad to watch, frankly--so sad that my grown middle son called me from work in another state just to ask if his memory was correct that he and his brothers walked to school (or rode a bike) until they were old enough to get a driver's license. Now parents drive their kids two blocks to school,and the police have to manage the traffic for the beginning and end of school.

In the times I have lived overseas in a number of countries, I have seen nothing to compare to American protectiveness. Sad, as I've said (and concerning about just how strong a person is being raised).
SleepKing
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by SleepKing »

This is a very hot topic amongst many families I know, and I have found there are a few polarizing schools of thought:

1) You are a SPECIALIZER and have your child in very limited activities (i.e. soccer and dace; just baseball, etc) but you do this ALL YEAR ROUND. I know a family that has their daughter in competitive dance at age 5, preschool for her. At this age, they practice 3 times a week and do at least one competition a month...and I'm talking driving anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 days to get to these competitions. Girl is 5 years old. They argue that 'she loves it' and 'if we don't push her she'll never be any good'. Same to be said for baseball, Family I know has their son in 8U travel baseball, this summer season they play 40 games and travel both local and regional (i.e. PA, OH, MI, IN, KY, WV) for tournaments too. In fall they play 20 more games. Have to sign a waiver that if they miss a game for any reason (allowed to miss 1 practice a month) then child sits the subsequent game. They've told me kids have sat due to going to funerals, etc... Winter practice 3 times a week. This is 8U baseball. Again, reason being 'if we don't do this he'll fall behind and never be able to make varsity'. Most nights are taken up with this activity for at least 1-2 hours, likely 3-4 nights per week.

2) You are a GENERALIZER and have your kid in multiple activities (i.e. music, sports, social cub/girl scouts, church, etc...). I've met kindergarten/early elementary school families that have a different activity every night of the week, literally 7 nights they are running around! They have told me 'if we don't do enough broad exposure Johnny/Suzie won't be well rounded enough'.

I can see both angles: you want to provide enough exposure so your child knows what is out there, but also want to give your child an inside track to becoming 'good at something'.

Personally, I want to expose my children to enough activities that they can find something THEY like and want to continue. Maybe for a couple years this does mean running around alot, but my DW and I have made a pact that WE WILL LIMIT THIS....because like you say....we value family time the most. Once these 'wonder years' are gone, they are never coming back.

Your family will figure it out. Don't give into peer pressure by other families. Listen to your child, but guide them along the way.

Best,
Sleepy
Polymath
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Polymath »

We push academics and support whatever activities the kids want to do on their own.
Ducky Momo
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Ducky Momo »

Don't sweat the other parents. Stick to a schedule that makes sense to you.

Ask yourself a series of questions before committing to an activity. Do you think your child will be engaged? Does your child show interest? How much does this impact our family financially? How does this impact my time and theirs?

Classes through your local parks and rec are a great way to get your child's feet wet and gauge their interest. With 3 children under 10, we've taken numerous classes by them over the years and swear by them.
ks289
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by ks289 »

I would consider the required time commitment/convenience of the activities rather than number of activities.

It is easier to expose a child to a large variety of activites at the preschool age when there are fewer hours in school, no homework, and the activities themselves often require little time. Of course, if you could reasonably replicate these activities at home or with play dates you could probably go that route. For these reasons I see no reason not to give all kinds of activites/sports a try.

Times have changed, and it does seem like parents are trying harder to optimize out of school time for enrichment and developing talents. Only you and your kid can decide how much is too much.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Doom&Gloom »

As many as the kid is interested in and able to stay interested in--providing that it doesn't create unnecessary hardships on the parents' time and that the kid isn't doing nothing (ie, watching tv or playing video games) instead.

At 4 y/o, one activity may or may not be too many imo.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

Levett wrote:This seems partly due to defensive parenting--parents fearing there's a kidnapper around every corner.
It's also partly parents fearing there's a child protective service's agent behind every tree.
Non7WoodUser
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Non7WoodUser »

We only consider paying for activities (sports or guitar/piano only considered) if the child has demonstrated consistent interest, persistence and discipline in practicing and excelling at the activity.
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Devil's Advocate
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Devil's Advocate »

As a father of a two pre-K children this issue is in the fore front of my mind. I grew up in a small town and my siblings and I weren't in a ton of activities. I think the keeping up with the Joneses in the upper middle class does have an impact on how many activities your child is in.

I think our children should participate in activities, but I do not envision them being in activities at such a young age. Hearing my co workers and bosses trucking their kids to this activity and that activity is ridiculous IMO. I think they must feel inadequate as parents if their children aren't constantly on the move.
Down time is so important for me and I will not be busy for busy sake...

Either Hell yes! Or no...

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Onion
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Onion »

I grappled with this with my two young children. Ultimately we felt that our children could be in one activity at a time after Kindergarten or during the summer. This summer their activity will be swimming lessons. Beyond that, I am home so we will do a lot of outdoor activities at state parks, we will fossil hunt, hit the beach, and visit family.

In my experience, there is a lot of pressure for children to be in preschool or multiple activities, even when a stay at home parent is present. It seems many parents have overwhelmed their children with television and computers and the children don't know how to play alone without these devices. So, the easy solution is to have them in activities.
Last edited by Onion on Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
krannerd
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by krannerd »

I've got a 4 year old...not going to over-subscribe him.

Last month, he was in swim lessons as the Y for 2 days a week at 30 min each...it's a 5 minute drive. This month, he's playing T-ball at the park 3 blocks away 2 nights a week.

1 activity at a time is about right for us. If he eventually turns out to have a talent for something and may benefit from something more intense...then great. But, no way are we going to do 3 activities at the same time....with travel....expense...etc.
Theseus
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Theseus »

I have a 17 year old and a 10 year old girls. Here is how we have dealt with it.

1. We don't care what "jones" are doing with their kids.
2. At most our kid can participate in 3 activities and can still have a reasonable family time. In general they have two activities on an ongoing basis.
3. One activity has to be our choice and is mandatory and has to continue year after year. Mostly because I wanted them to learn not to quit when something is hard - which I noticed too much in our circle of friends. In our case it is classical dance. They are not allowed to quit as I want them understand how hard it is to achieve something special.

By no means we have it right. I am sure we will find out once they grow up if we were right. But one lesson my older one has learned is that it takes time to figure out if you like doing something or not. She was not very happy with the classical dance for the first two years and wanted to quit. We didn't let her quit. And now she loves it so much that she would not stop it even at the expense of social life.
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lthenderson
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by lthenderson »

We push academics first and as long as the grades are good, we support them in what extra-curricular activities they want to do as long as it doesn't interfere with our schedules. We've said no to a few things with our oldest because it conflicted with our schedules but she still takes piano lessons and is active in girl scouts. She also takes swimming lessons for a week during the summer but that is more of a requirement of ours than a desire of hers. The youngest is not quite four and not in any activities.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Doom&Gloom »

Thesues wrote:I have a 17 year old and a 10 year old girls. Here is how we have dealt with it.

1. We don't care what "jones" are doing with their kids.
2. At most our kid can participate in 3 activities and can still have a reasonable family time. In general they have two activities on an ongoing basis.
3. One activity has to be our choice and is mandatory and has to continue year after year. Mostly because I wanted them to learn not to quit when something is hard - which I noticed too much in our circle of friends. In our case it is classical dance. They are not allowed to quit as I want them understand how hard it is to achieve something special.

By no means we have it right. I am sure we will find out once they grow up if we were right. But one lesson my older one has learned is that it takes time to figure out if you like doing something or not. She was not very happy with the classical dance for the first two years and wanted to quit. We didn't let her quit. And now she loves it so much that she would not stop it even at the expense of social life.
This is an excellent point. We did the same with DS twice. Band and Boy Scouts were both a "joint" decision initially. He wanted to quit Scouts after he finished Cub Scouts. DW told him he had to participate in Boy Scouts for one year before we would listen to his side of that. We never discussed it again and he completed Eagle Scout requirements. Similar story with the school band. He wanted to quit after he finished middle school and entered high school. We told him he was required to participate one year before we would discuss it. From his first day at "band camp" two weeks prior to the start of his first high school year, he absolutely loved it and we couldn't have forced him to quit if we had wanted to.
MathWizard
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by MathWizard »

lthenderson wrote:We push academics first and as long as the grades are good, we support them in what extra-curricular activities they want to do as long as it doesn't interfere with our schedules. We've said no to a few things with our oldest because it conflicted with our schedules but she still takes piano lessons and is active in girl scouts. She also takes swimming lessons for a week during the summer but that is more of a requirement of ours than a desire of hers. The youngest is not quite four and not in any activities.
This is the same as we did with out two boys.

The oldest is out of college and enjoying work as a computer programmer.

The second will be starting his 4th year of college in engineering.

Extra curriculars were youth soccer, tae kwon do, robotics and music, plus youth activities at church.
We let them drive the extras themselves.
Brewman
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Brewman »

Postby MathWizard » Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:46 am

lthenderson wrote:
We push academics first and as long as the grades are good, we support them in what extra-curricular activities they want to do as long as it doesn't interfere with our schedules. We've said no to a few things with our oldest because it conflicted with our schedules but she still takes piano lessons and is active in girl scouts. She also takes swimming lessons for a week during the summer but that is more of a requirement of ours than a desire of hers. The youngest is not quite four and not in any activities.


This is the same as we did with out two boys.

The oldest is out of college and enjoying work as a computer programmer.

The second will be starting his 4th year of college in engineering.

Extra curriculars were youth soccer, tae kwon do, robotics and music, plus youth activities at church.
We let them drive the extras themselves.

Pretty similar to our approach with our two daughters.
As long as grades were good we were fine in supporting them. As for activities - Oldest was Gymnastics/ Dance 1 day a week from about 6yrs old to 11yrs old along with piano 1 day a week, then in high school competitive swim....anywhere from 5-6 days week!
Youngest was tae kwondo 2-3 days week from 5yrs old to about 10 along with guitar 1 day a week. At about 11 yrs old she started competitive swim that grew to pretty much 5-6 days a week or more year round!
They both got to swim practices via school bus, car pool, self driving and occasionally Mom and Dad. I will say we did spent a fair amount of our weekends at swim meets and helping the high school and club teams but I do not regret it! They were both willing to work hard at it and we supported them as long as they wanted put the effort in and they learned some good life lessons and tools along the way - Time management was a good tool they learned early, another was just because you try hard and practice hard you don't always win so you better learn to deal with disappointment on the flip side you learn that very few do well without working hard.
Radjob4me
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Radjob4me »

If you are posting this, I would say you have reached your limit :happy

Our kids (now 13-16) didn't do any organized activities that young (and I didn';t do much formal as a kid either - some rec league sports, some random camps, but mostly played with friends, although admittedly a different time). And I certainly wouldn't have let grandparents, as much as I love them, put my kids into something without checking with us.

Honestly, my best memories were letting our two boys dig a huge mud pit in the backyard and put their Tonka trucks in there and have a blast - and they did that, or some variation of backyard construction, for what seems like years! Or we'd do dress up with my daughter and dance around. Or build Legos but very little formal stuff.

Around 1st grade, there was a once a week soccer program on Sat mornings, and they all did that until 3rd grade - sort of our small town activity. After that they all tried some low-key non-travel baseball, lacrosse, soccer and basketball in the town leagues at various time, but only one at a time and if they wanted to play. They never did more than one thing at a time

Our daughter tried everything and honestly until she was 11, but never had anything she really liked. Then she tried dance and doesn't want to do anything else and is doing very well in both dance and school -we have to drag her out of the studio. Our oldest still plays soccer because he loves it and is very talented, but we don't let him do it year round - he has to take either winter or spring (or preferrably both) off and do something else - so he skis and recently started teaching at the local mountain this past winter. Our middle boy loves computers and even though he doesn't get out as much as we'd like activity-wise, he gets straight A's and loves to program.

So I always write too much, but through sharing this is that you kids will find the the activities they enjoy over time and you are not doing anything bad or detrimental to their development by limiting their involvement in organized activities. As others have said, your own sanity as a parent is more important than learning Mandarin at age 4. It is far more important that you and your spouse maintain a loving relationship and care for your kids, not just shuttle them around. If you value family time, then defend it! While all of the other families are standing in the rain at the three day lacrosse jamboree, watching game #11, you can be at a state park camping and hiking and swimming and making a campfire...

In terms of making kids continue when they want to stop - I have mixed feelings on that. I think it is good for kids as they get older to take some ownership and be allowed to stop after talking about it. That said, we do not allow it during a season or activity when they are part of a group/team that is depending on them. That is never allowed.
Last edited by Radjob4me on Mon Jun 13, 2016 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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warner25
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by warner25 »

We haven't faced this head-on yet with our own kid(s), but I highly recommend the book, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by Annette Lareau which details a 20-year sociology study but is accessible to people who are not trained sociologists. My takeaways were that:

(1) scheduling of kids activities in the US is directly correlated with affluence
(2) less affluent kids were the only ones roaming their neighborhoods and playing games of imagination with siblings, cousins, etc.
(3) affluent and "over-scheduled" kids did tend to have better outcomes as young adults, but as kids they were somewhat insufferable to be around (pretentious, defiant, fighting much more with siblings and parents)
(4) less affluent kids were much more family-oriented, fought less with parents and siblings, and were more independent in solving problems
(5) but less affluent kids were also intimidated by authority figures, communicated poorly, and didn't know how to operate well in a structured organizational setting, and this partly explains their worse outcomes as adults
(6) being involved in so many structured activities may explain why the more affluent kids had these aforementioned skills; they knew how to deal with a "boss," be assertive, ask for exceptions, etc. (maybe also explaining why they were so insufferable as kids)
(7) it may well be possible to teach these important skills as a skilled, affluent parent without subjecting your kids and yourself to the over-scheduled way of life, which frankly sounds awful to me
Last edited by warner25 on Mon Jun 13, 2016 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
DawgFan2001
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by DawgFan2001 »

I have a 4 year old daughter, and we have done two activities outside of school- swim and a gymnastics type. At school (which is a daycare that they call school), I do pay the extra $56 a month for weekly dance activity. My daughter is very physical and seems to enjoy it. I do try to go to as many birthday parties as possible because she is an only child and is very social. There are no scheduled activities during the week because it is simply too late by the time both working parents get home. Play time with school or neighborhood friends a few nights a week during the summer especially are always fun.

One of the more interesting things I've noticed about being a parent is that it is very easy to get competitive about it if others are like that as well. I think that is really sad. You do what is right for your family and don't worry about anything else.
mancich
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by mancich »

One activity at a time; one is taking horse back riding lessons, one does gymnastics. They take a break from both for summer; too difficult with vacations, day camps, etc. It is admittedly a tougher balance during the school year, because the younger child also goes to religious ed classes one night a week, and the older one does Girl Scouts. Run, run, run...
daveydoo
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by daveydoo »

warner25 wrote:20-year sociology study
Pretty sure this is not a randomized controlled trial (unethical to perform, of course). Studies like this are so deeply flawed as to be essentially useless. And they comprise most of sociology and psychology (and medicine, too). This is the reason that coffee is good for you one week and terrible for you the next, even though coffee hasn't changed. Hate to say it but the data on our "hereditary meritocracy" are mounting; affluent parents' kids do better in almost everything (insufferable or not) -- whether you attribute it to so-called "assortative mating" (e.g., docs no longer marry their nurses -- they marry other doctors), parental education, greater opportunity, higher expectations, or even better parenting skills. I would not use this "study" to keep kids out of activities -- but that's just my opinion.
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MN Finance
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by MN Finance »

We have 4 kids ages 5 to 10. We make each one do a sport and a music activity (5 yrs old not in music yet.) Make is a strong word obviously, but offer options and if they don't enjoy something we just offer some other options. I really dislike the culture in today's activities compared to when we were kids, really. As such, we just ignore the noise, usually skip a percentage of practices, and obviously don't care how competitive they are. We usually just follow their friends to teams or leagues because that's the part they like. If they aren't enjoying something we stop in a second. You can usually find teams full of lower skilled players which is much more laid back. One of ours plays hockey (which is extremely competitive here.) She's on the 7th team (out of 7) and one of the below average players but absolutely loves every second of it. She is at her skill level specifically because we don't do all the camps and refuse to play year round like almost all the others. When she gets schooled by someone better she literally has said, 'I don't care. I could be just as good as her, but she plays all year round, who would want to do that?' Works for me.

If we feel too busy we just cut back. We also carpool about half of the rides depending on friends and the activity. We also limit summer stuff, even though that's when a lot happens. Then they have full days or weeks of nothing but exploring in the woods or seeing friends
Last edited by MN Finance on Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
hmw
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by hmw »

Our 5-year old went to an art class at his Montessori school once a week when he was in school. Now school is out, my wife enrolled him In a soccer camp at the local Y. He played 4 times a week, and it lasted maybe 3 weeks. He is in a swimming class now. 4 times a week for 2 weeks. Expenses and time commitment have been pretty minimal so far.
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by pondering »

Just doing dance and t-ball at the same time with our 6 year old daughter has taught us to not schedule activities with potential conflict, though we got lucky with rainouts.
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mouses
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by mouses »

I read about this make them stay with an activity for a year and then let them opt out, and that's another thing that baffles me. How long does it take to determine something is boring or distasteful, not a year. It's like piano lessons that wind up giving the kid a distaste for music for decades. Or the horrible PE classes we had to take in high school that turned many of us off exercise for years, when we might otherwise have found sports we liked.

I would put in a vote for swimming lessons, because that's a skill that improves safety.

Plus, overscheduling activities leaves less time for studying.
tim1999
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by tim1999 »

My dislike over society's current trend of "over programming" kids is one of the numerous reasons why I decided not to have kids. When I was a kid in the 1980s and 1990s, besides some summer swim lessons, I didn't have any "programmed" activities until I started doing high school cross country running and golf. Before then, my free time was for open "play' with my friends. I liked that, and I think I turned out OK.
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arthurdawg
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by arthurdawg »

I think what I find most disappointing is the "overspecialization" of kids... i.e. by 12 in our town if you aren't playing soccer, you'll have to hire a personal coach and work overtime to make most of the teams (not entirely true as there is AYSO and other options, but the quality of play is much lower).

We've tended to focus on our kid's academics as the primary focus and the one that is required to do everything else. They go to one of the local Catholic schools, which has a medium homework load (not too much, but they learn!). After that they are all required to play one instrument (girls are in piano, son has gravitated to guitar) and at this point the 3 oldest are playing club basketball and the youngest club soccer (fortunately, we have a great club basketball group in town that isn't insane!). Beyond that we really try for well-roundedness... one is in art, one is really working quite hard on her flute, one is really pushing hard in scouts. Beyond that, they are encouraged to do other activities as time permits.

It's tricky to maintain the balance at times.
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fishmonger
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by fishmonger »

My kids are 5 and 6, so I can't speak to how they will turn out. Right now, we do one activity at a time, per season.

In my opinion, the best thing kids can do at this age is be "bored." Have them ride their bikes, or build forts in the woods. My kids are close enough in age that they entertain themselves, and that's with zero video games or devices.

I had to laugh at the OP's comment about "designer birthdays." So happy that I live in NH
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by fishmonger »

Another point, it has been proven again and again that specialization in sports at an early age leads to burnout and increased risk of injury (as well as not fully developing athletically). The youth sports-industrial complex ignores this to sell to parents
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Devil's Advocate
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Devil's Advocate »

Fishmonger,

Live free or die
Love it

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stoptothink
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by stoptothink »

arthurdawg wrote:I think what I find most disappointing is the "overspecialization" of kids... i.e. by 12 in our town if you aren't playing soccer, you'll have to hire a personal coach and work overtime to make most of the teams (not entirely true as there is AYSO and other options, but the quality of play is much lower).
Totally agree. I'm a former strength and conditioning coach, I've worked with a lot of professional, olympic, and collegiate athletes. I can't tell you how many times I was approached by parents of very young kids. For instance, a former co-worker of mine had 9yr old twin girls. They played basketball. Along with playing on 2-3 different teams at all times, they have a private shooting coach who they'd drive 2hrs once a week to work with, ALL family vacations are centered around their tournaments, and their mother approached me to work on their s&c and nutrition programs. These were 9yr olds, whose parents were both unathletic and particularly short...regardless of the amount of specialized training, due to genetics these girls had almost no chance of reaching their goal (college scholarship). That's not what I told the mom, but I did tell her I thought it was much to early to put that kind of pressure on her daughters.
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arthurdawg
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by arthurdawg »

stoptothink wrote:
arthurdawg wrote:I think what I find most disappointing is the "overspecialization" of kids... i.e. by 12 in our town if you aren't playing soccer, you'll have to hire a personal coach and work overtime to make most of the teams (not entirely true as there is AYSO and other options, but the quality of play is much lower).
Totally agree. I'm a former strength and conditioning coach, I've worked with a lot of professional, olympic, and collegiate athletes. I can't tell you how many times I was approached by parents of very young kids. For instance, a former co-worker of mine had 9yr old twin girls. They played basketball. Along with playing on 2-3 different teams at all times, they have a private shooting coach who they'd drive 2hrs once a week to work with, ALL family vacations are centered around their tournaments, and their mother approached me to work on their s&c and nutrition programs. These were 9yr olds, whose parents were both unathletic and particularly short...regardless of the amount of specialized training, due to genetics these girls had almost no chance of reaching their goal (college scholarship). That's not what I told the mom, but I did tell her I thought it was much to early to put that kind of pressure on her daughters.

Short and unathletic... unfortunately that describes me! I doubt any of ours will play in college, but if they have some skills and want to walk on for DIII I'm not going to object. Fortunately, they are all pretty smart and should do fine for college.

We have family just like this that swims in our local leagues. Ours swim in the summer league and have participated in the year-round league, but the mother of these poor kids is just nuts about it. She yells and screams at them routinely, even if they've had a good swim. She needs to focus on their academics, but all she can think about is the swimming!
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Leemiller
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Leemiller »

What is a designer birthday?

Hmmm, don't have my five year old currently in anything. Her aftercare for kindgarten has some neat options we'll explore in the fall. I just don't see us ever becoming a traveling sports family.
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warner25
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by warner25 »

daveydoo wrote:...Studies like this are so deeply flawed as to be essentially useless... Hate to say it but the data on our "hereditary meritocracy" are mounting... I would not use this "study" to keep kids out of activities...
I'm sure it's not perfect, but it's the most objective and complete discussion I've seen on the topic. Actually, the study is pretty convincing that kids should be put into activities to have the best chance of socioeconomic success, not kept out. I found that disappointing, because I don't want our family to live that way, and I've tried really hard to understand how to get around it. If what you say is true about "hereditary meritocracy," that makes me feel better about severely limiting our commitment to activities. Why saturate all of your family's free time with expensive organized activities if it doesn't matter either way?
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Re: How many activities for your kids?

Post by Mingus »

fishmonger wrote:My kids are 5 and 6, so I can't speak to how they will turn out. Right now, we do one activity at a time, per season.

In my opinion, the best thing kids can do at this age is be "bored." Have them ride their bikes, or build forts in the woods. My kids are close enough in age that they entertain themselves, and that's with zero video games or devices.

I had to laugh at the OP's comment about "designer birthdays." So happy that I live in NH
What is a "designer birthday" party? It sounds really exclusive!
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