When we initially begun home educating our children one of the issues that we faced was determining which extracurricular activities we would enrol them in. The academic side of things was easily done as we had decided from earlier on that we would always follow the national curriculum. When they were in mainstream education I was one of those parents who was quite happy to sign my children up with school organised clubs, as long as it didn't involve me having to take them myself to a different venue other than school. Yes, I was THAT parent. Just invested enough so that my children got the whole school experience but not overly invested that I had to take time out of my own schedule carting them to and fro. I used to look at friends of mine who did the school runs and go rushing off straight after pick up time to take their children to after school clubs and wonder why the hell would they would put themselves through all that stress day in and day out. Karma clearly has a great sense of humour because home educating our children means I'm now the school organised clubs so that meant having to involve my children in activities that they would enjoy and most importantly wouldn't break the bank!
My husband and I have one rule for our school age children when it comes to activities that they are signed up for, that they have to complete at least a year of it. The reason behind our being quite firm with the one year rule is to teach them about being consistent and responsible enough to see something through. If at the end of the year they don't feel that it is for them then they are free to find another interest to take up. Unfortunately for my teenager because we are a one income family, the economic factor comes into play and she has to do the same clubs as her 6 year old sister, so they do Irish dance; swimming and piano, I follow the keep it simple stupid rule when it comes to choices, so far so good.
My eldest started her piano lessons last year, I suspect it was mainly because two other friends had decided to take piano lessons also and as you do in teenagedom, where one goes, the flock follows. Unfortunately for her, she has a Fijian mother who doesn't do the "wet the feet" approach with ANYTHING. Her friends lasted all of three weeks before they lost interest and I've got hand it to my teenager, she had the balls to ask if she could quit also and she was never seen again.. JOKES! I gave her the speech of quitting being for losers and won her over but lets be real I wouldn't have let her anyway because we had already paid for those damn lessons. To her credit, she has managed to work her way through the lessons and is now preparing to take her Grade 1 ABRSM exam later this year. Some days it's hard to get both my girls motivated to practise their music lessons, which is to be expected as once the novelty of anything new wears off it becomes mundane and that is when discipline comes into play.
My girls had their first ever Summer Class Feis (competition) for their Irish Dancing yesterday. It was my initiation into the life of a dance mom also. I had to restrain myself from yelling out to my 6 year old to go kick some butt when she went on stage. I don't think it would have been received well by the other parents. A friend of mine made a comment about whether I was also teaching my girls about the art of Fijian dance and although valid I felt it completely missed the point of why we enrolled our girls into Irish dancing. For the girls, apart from it being a great way to learn about a different culture and meet new people, its also an opportunity to get involved in what is actually a competitive sport. Yes they may still be in the very early stages of it all, but its building their character up to become great sportsperson(s) at the end of the day. The time and effort and not to mention skill that goes into learning the different techniques of Irish dancing takes a lot of dedication by the individual dancers and I can honestly say, hand to heart, it is not for the faint-hearted. Although I'd like for them to learn about the art of Fijian dance, there really isn't any opportunity available for them to do so here in England.
The younger generation nowadays have it a little easier when it comes to committing to things. I feel this is mainly due to how the generation of parents today feel compelled to make life easier for our children because we were of the generation who were pushed to be over-achievers. Because of this default parenting methods that we have come to accept, we now have a generation who are not being held accountable for the choices that they make or even their actions. My husband and I are trying to counter this parenting predicament by ensuring that our children grow up knowing that for every action there will be a consequence. We are also trying to instil in them diligent work ethics that they can apply to both their academic work and other interests. By doing so, we raise responsible and disciplined young people who are able to work independently and make intuitive decisions based on both moral and practical standpoints. Our home education journey has become such a learning experience for me especially as I am the sole educator at home with my girls. I've had to ensure that I provide a well-rounded education for our children so that they go above and beyond their own expectations of their abilities. As the saying goes - We live, We learn.