In the city where I live, there are practically limitless opportunities for children to participate in enrichment activities. There are opportunities to partake in sports of every kind, music lessons, scouting, writing workshops, martial arts training, art classes, science classes, dance lessons, math enrichment and even manners training.
Allowing our children to try all of the things that interest them can get overwhelming pretty quickly.
Have you experienced activity overload? It can get exhausting (and expensive!) taking our son to soccer practices, Taekwondo training and Cub Scout meetings and events. Now he’s begging to take classes on LEGO robotics and computer programming.
We don’t want to discourage our son from exploring areas of interest, but having some breathing room in all of our schedules is a priority in which we refuse to compromise. This year we’ve decided to try some home enrichment for some newer areas of attraction, such as math and science.
That said, there are some activities that simply won’t work in a home setting. For example, playing soccer would be a bit tricky without a team to play with and against. For the interests that require joining a group — such as soccer and scouting — we’ve allowed our oldest son to participate.
It’s inexpensive to join a rec sports league. We pay $80 for a uniform and entire season of soccer, which includes two practices a week and eight games. We also have our son take Taekwondo lessons through our parks and rec program. It’s so much less expensive than the private options in our area — and it’s only a commitment of one night each week.
To explore more math and science based interests, my son and I have been enjoying some of the outstanding and fun Basher Science books together. We’ve also been planning some fun science experiments at home (Mentos and soda, anybody?). And we’ve ordered a book on Scratch programming to work through with our son to satisfy his curiosity in computer programming.
It seems that sometimes the family time that comes along with exploring an interest at home outranks the peer-to-peer learning in a group setting. At least it does for our son. He seems to thrive on individual attention and Kirk and I thoroughly enjoy exploring these emerging interests with him.
While we did purchase a few books, we typically take full advantage of our local library to explore areas of interest. Our library has a wide range of books and media — including instructional videos on how to play specific music instruments!
And, of course, the Internet is invaluable when searching for information related to a new topic. We have free access to amazing special research databases for kids (and adults) through our library’s online portal as well.
So next time your child begs to sign up for one more activity, see if it’s possible to explore the area of interest at home! If it turns out that your child is absolutely passionate about a certain discipline, you can look into outside opportunities. But, it never hurts to have that one-on-one time with a loving parent or guardian.
And you never know, you just might enjoy it as much as your child!