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Parent-Child Extra-Curricular Activities

There are so many activities that children can get involved with. Even when you limit them to the Top 5, it can still sometimes be difficult to find the time to fit them all into your schedule. Yes – your child’s schedule is tough, but yours is even tighter because you have to be there. At least you do if your children are young and you want to maximise the benefits that you get out of each program.

Let’s look at some of the things that I want the boys to do… I want them to learn how to swim so that they are physically active and have good safety skills around water. I want them to learn Chinese so that they can be bilingual and speak a dialect of their mother tongue. I want them to learn Sign Language because of the benefits that it offers. I want them to learn music because of the many benefits that music has. I want them to attend right brain classes for whole brain development so they can tap into the potential of their right brain.

When you add it all up (including pre-school if your child attends it), it’s a pretty hefty schedule for anyone, let alone a child. Not to mention that it is challenging enough to fit in all these activities into your schedule and that is if you only have one child. When you  have two children, it’s worse, especially when you have to be present in half of these classes. Add in more children and it is just impossible.

What are the options?

  1. Cut back on classes.
  2. Homeschool.

I didn’t like the first option so I decided to try the “homeschool” route for extra-curricular activities. I say “homeschool” with inverted commas because we have decided that the children will still go through the conventional schooling system. What I mean by homeschool is that I would be the one to teach them all these extra-curricular activities. The benefit of homeschool is that you can tailor the activities to fit all your children together so you can cut back on the hours it would otherwise take you if you have to do the classes individually with each child.

The other benefit of homeschool, which applies to me being a SAHM and an AP parent, is that I can be around for my other children and I don’t need to find babysitters for them. One of the hardest parts with sending the kids to classes is having to find someone to mind one child while I’m at class with the other. It is possible if the kids only have one class each, but throw in three extra classes each and you’re really looking at a full-time baby-sitter. I guess this is where I find myself at odds for various personal reasons which I don’t think I should get into. Bottom line is, I am not keen to hand my kids off to a baby-sitter on a daily basis – at least, not when they are this young. This is the reason why I chose to stay at home instead of continue working so it feels like it would defeat the purpose. Anyway, I’m not here to debate about who takes care of the children, this articles is about shifting extra-curricular activities from external classes to the home (or similar arrangements).

Since Doman and many other early childhood educators have always agreed that parents make the best teachers for young children, it makes sense to try to do more activities at home anyway. Aside from that, it gives you more time to bond with your children and for your children to bond with each other when they do activities together. The main compromise is resources – equipment and materials.

Although most materials can be home-made, the time it takes to create those resources can be prohibitive. As one mother once said, the last thing you want to do is lose out on time with your children because you are so busy making resources for them to use. So, taking a leaf out of the books of successful entrepreneurs, I’ve gone for the “out-source” route. Whatever resources and materials that can be begged, borrowed, stolen or bought, I have obtained (which is part of the reason why I haven’t been making many new flashcards to upload on Figur8). When you are a parent, time is a commodity you can’t afford to waste so I think it is worth it paying someone else to do the grunge work so I highly recommend taking this route, even if you feel your own creations are better.

If you want to look at it from a different perspective where the financials are concerned, you can consider it like this: sending children to extra classes is costly already. If you’re willing to pay the money for extra classes, then surely buying the resources to do these activities at home would be like a budget alternative.

Where to get resources for at home extra-curricular activities?

I’m out of time today so we’ll take a look at some of the resources we have bought and have considered and what I think of them in my next post.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

4 thoughts on “Parent-Child Extra-Curricular Activities

  1. I agree with the part about buying good-quality resources when possible and making the rest (for personalizing to child’s preference). I’d rather have a little bit of free time for my own writing hobby.

    Homeschooling is still within my plan until a baby comes along and I give up. Ha! Good preschools are so expensive that I told hubby we can build an entire library and playground by homeschooling 2 kids, at least till 6 years old.

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  2. Tell me about it! For now, the only purpose of preschool for Gavin is for socialising. He’s a shy boy and quite resistant to new things so I felt exposing him to such an environment is good for him. He doesn’t like going, but once he’s there, he has a blast.

    I think the hardest part about finding time to do things at home with Gavin and Gareth is the vast difference in their personalities. Gareth grabs everything and tries to chew it, tear it, crush it, throw it and test what else he can do to it. Makes it a real challenge to teach Gavin anything at home without Gareth interrupting and making a mess of everything. And with Gareth just turned one and suddenly developing stranger anxiety, it’s hard to leave him to take Gavin to classes. So hard to manage two, I can’t imagine if I had to handle three!

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  3. I can picture the scenario of 2 kids, especially with a Gareth-type personality. Guess I’d have to learn on-the-job when the time comes. At least your sharing is preparing me for that day.

    My boy’s very sociable with young and old, and gets to play almost daily with cousins. Seems like one more reason to save money on school fees!

    Btw, happy 2011! 🙂

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  4. Yes, I think nothing really prepares you for two kids except the real life experience itself. You can never tell what your second child is going to be like. A lot of scheduling that I did with Gavin went straight out the door with Gareth. For instance, I used to monitor Gavin’s sleep hours like a hawk. Now I only know how many naps Gareth has and roughly gauge whether he has slept a lot or a little. Then again, Gareth has the sort of personality that gives me leeway to be flexible. Gavin, on the other hand, had to have everything just the way he liked it or it was meltdown time. I would never spontaneously go out with Gavin alone unless everything was fully planned. With Gareth, we can pop out on a whim with minimal planning.

    I guess I’m glad that they came in the order that they did. Makes things a lot easier for me.

    Happy 2011 to you too!

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