The question of the week is: “How many activities is right for the older ( aged 9 and up) child?”
That is a hard one, isn’t it? I bet if you asked 100 homeschooling families, you might get close to 100 different answers! I think different families, even families who love homeschooling in a similar way, still have different values and different ways of approaching things.
Many homeschooling families seem to be reluctant to do activities for their child over the age of nine because of the impact this has on the younger children in the family – the driving, the time involved, the financial end of things. I do understand. That is a consideration.
However, looking at a nine or ten year old developmentally, it is not that the family is less important to a 9 year old, but most 9 and 10 year olds are appreciative of some space and time to be with their peers, to be separate from their younger siblings, and happy to try out something new with a trusted adult outside of the family. The world is opening up, and these older children need opportunities to be a part of it in a protected and healthy way. Other trusted adults can be an important and welcome part of a nine and ten year old’s life.
If you are planning to homeschool high school, there may another angle to think about activities from as well. I have heard from many mothers of children in high school who were formerly homeschooled, and the parents all said that the lack of social experiences outside the home during the ages of 9-14 later became a huge part of their child’s wish to have a public or private high school experience if this was not addressed well within the child’s homeschooling experience of those ages.
So, the question, to me, is not whether a nine or ten year old and up should be involved in activities, but what activities best reflect the family’s values and the child’s needs, and how do we balance this for the whole family.
Some families have said that each child can do one sport activity and one music activity, but then quickly realize that sometimes this is way too much depending upon practice times and such and how many children have separate activities.
My suggestion is to look carefully at what is required for any activity: the cost, the practices, the games or competitions or events that are involved, any extra costs and extra practices incurred for those things and decide from there. Look carefully at all the alternatives: if you decide soccer matches your child and your family well, does it have to be the crazy competition soccer league that practices three nights a week plus travel away games or could you find a recreational league that plays one night a week and has a game one night a week.
I think you also have to look carefully at your child. I have one older child who lives for rhythmic gymnastics and she does compete, (although in rhythmic gymnastics she is only competing once or twice a year at this point). It is not always easy to get her to practice; especially when Daddy is traveling! But, for this more inward child, for her temperament and personality, this is something so very important and a huge part of her social circle and developing her body.
Where I live, it seems that sports gets a really bad rap amongst many homeschooling families as being too competitive, taking up too much time, too damaging on the younger siblings.
I think personally think movement is important; sports are not the only way to achieve this for the nine and ten year old to be sure but I think it could be an important way to combat the increasing sedentary ways of many nine and ten year olds who really want to just sit and read and whose play consists of mainly sitting and talking. Again it depends on the child, on the sport, the coach, and on the family.
I have some friends who try to couch an active day with two “at-home” days on either side. I have other friends who are happy to do activities so long as they take place after 3 P.M I have still other friends who are happy to do activities so long as their child can walk there, or someone else can carpool or drive their child at least part of the time. Perhaps looking at the whole week will help provide a clue as to the balance your family needs.
Whatever your decision, my only thought is to have a cheerful and positive attitude. If you feel negative, you hate the class or practice time, you hate the traffic, you don’t like this or that and little Jimmy is missing his nap and isn’t that awful….well, then it sucks all the joy out of it for your older child. So, please make your decision about your older child, and then keep any complaining to yourself when the time comes to actually get out of the house and do something!
I would love to hear your experiences with activities!
Blessings and love,