I think choosing how we spend our time outside of when our children are in school –whether that be in public, private or homeschool – is an important topic.
If your children are in public or private school, I know many families who choose to do no extra activities outside of school. This gives children time to come home, relax and play, get homework done, eat with the family and go to bed on time. I know families that adhere to this even when their children are teenagers, despite pressure to “do lots of things to put on a college application.” If any activities are chosen, it might be one activity at a time that has a short life span – ie, an activity that might span 4-6 weeks and then culminate in an event.
I know many homeschooling families that will only choose activities that the entire family can participate in (or least all the grades-aged children and therefore the younger children coming up to this age will eventually do). I find this to be especially true of families with four or more children. If the family is very large, for example, I have known homeschooling families with six to twelve children, they may choose two activities such as soccer and dance and the children divide according to their interests. Even this can start to get a little dicey because of age requirements for different levels, but it still is a way to limit.
I think the families that are running around the most that I see in the homeschooling communities are actually those with one to three children! There is this idea that every child needs their separate things to do. Sometimes that is true. However, I think it takes really careful thought and consideration so it doesn’t turn out that each child has there “own three separate things” so therefore you are running nine places between three children!
I don’t know as children below 12 need much in the way of outside, adult-led, structured activities, dependent upon the child’s temperament and extraversion levels. Young teens of 13-15 sometimes struggle because it seems as if many of the activities for “children” are up to age 12 and therefore those ages 13-15 need to be in a teen group of some kind. My almost fourteen year old often feels left out in a group of older teens at this point and I have noticed this across the board in observing the 13-15 year olds. So I have tried to look for activities that still can include her with her sister and children her age (because 13-15 year olds often seem to feel left out with only smaller children as well) or activities that especially include a good grouping of 13 to 15 year olds. This sort of grouping also makes sense to me based upon Steiner’s pedagogy of the sixteen/seventeen year old change.
I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you handle outside activities? At what point do you feel children really, really need something to do outside the home? Not to generalize, but many mothers of 11 and 12 year old girls have told me that is when they really felt their girls needed something more and many mothers of boys told me their boys didn’t care so much to do something until they were closer to 14.
Tell me how many children are in your family that are grades-aged and how you handle outside activities! Let’s have a discussion!