There is so much talk these days regarding the great lessons that team sports and other classes can teach a child. My oldest child is eight now, and the question of outside activities is starting to come up; activities for learning how to get along in a group, work as a team within a group, and for the social end of things because having friends and even a best friend is important at this age.
My husband and I were talking about this issue the other night, and he commented something very interesting to me. He said, “Well, it seems as if many parents want to use these team sports and classes as a way to parent their children but in reality there is no substitute for good parenting.”
Scouting, team sports, karate, and all the many other activities a child could be doing is a supplement, not the main course. To many of you out there, you may be thinking, well, of course! However, once a child is in school much of the day away from the home, and then in other classes or sports for part of the day, and then perhaps home with homework, there may be less time for parenting than one imagines. The parent may possibly be shoved into the role of “time facilitator” or “manager of events” for their child rather than “parent to help guide child through life in these teachable moments.”
Good parenting takes quantity time. If you and your child have a decreased amount of time together, chances are that there will be less teachable moments that come up. You may have to work harder at connection within the blur that is each day that rushes by.
If your child is school-aged but still under the fifth or sixth grade level, I would advise you to seriously look at what commitments you and your child have outside of school and to think about limiting those engagements.
I think it is very important for school-aged children who are not homeschooling to have ample opportunity to actually be at home. The younger school-aged child still needs to be firmly entrenched in the family. It is also important that the school-aged child has plenty of time to work on practical life skills that tend to get squished out by homework and extracurricular activities. Every child should be learning how to clean house, cook meals, grocery shop, sew, knit, fix things around the house and on the car as they get older, and garden. Boys and girls alike!
Team sports, classes and other activities have their place for children, but let’s not confuse the lessons these activities teach with the necessity of good parenting.