Are we in danger of over scheduling our children?
In this week’s Telegraph (Ballet school drop-out: Why I’ve cancelled my children’s lessons) mother of two and secondary school teacher Libby Winton writes about going against the current trend and choosing not to enrol her young offspring into as many after school activities, clubs and classes as possible. When asked what hobbies the child was involved in she said: “But she’s only 4 years old.”
It got me thinking about my own children, who are now well beyond the age of their BabyBjorn carriers, https://www.facebook.com/BabyBjornUK and the parents I regularly meet at the school gates not to mention working at http://clareville.co.uk @Clareville #b2bPR and #consumerPR agency which works with a number of clients in the #parenting market. My reception age son attends a good local state primary school (the one parents try to get their children into when they can’t afford to go private!). These parents have the funds to spend on their children/s activities but would struggle to pay regular term time fees.
As a result many of these parents have enrolled their children into as many classes as possible whether its ballet, dance, tap, football, tennis, swimming and even language classes. One dad I spoke to told me he had signed his daughter up to a well known performing arts school so that later in life she would be good at ‘public speaking’. Another has already got her son a private tutor because he lacks ‘pencil control’. Both children have just turned five.
Somewhat worryingly, I too am guilty of over scheduling my child, but then what’s the alternative? To leave the child to their own devices and let them choose which classes they do or don’t attend? In that instance my son would say ‘NO’ to the lot, with the exception of football. Whilst it could save me a small personal fortune each month, I think it’s more important that he continues attending the classes. At this stage he can’t see his potential but I can. As his mother I can not only see the long term benefits that the classes will have on his coordination and life skills but also help him to meet and interact with new people and children as he gets older.
Winton came to the conclusion that it might be better to invest in one or two quality classes coupled with a more DIY approach. My own thoughts are that parents have to do what works for them and their family, though ultimately it does all depend on the individual and whether they can manage all the classes whilst still having time to be a child.