Enrichment Kids Love

My Kids Are Overscheduled and I Like It

little girl wearing ballet shoes
I get a lot of flak for the amount of classes in which I enroll my toddlers

My daughter (3.5) takes ballet, gymnastics, yoga, art class, soccer and spanish class. My son, who is 2, takes soccer, art class, yoga and spanish class. And although some of these classes happen over the course of their (pre) school day, I probably do have the "overscheduled" children everyone worries are going to burn out at the age of four.

But here's the thing: they love it.

The naysayers all say that children this age should be playing free form, building their strength on the playground and in playgroups and my children do those things, but they also crave the structure and discipline of classes.

The classes are also geared toward little learners. We are not talking screaming gymnastics coaches telling my 3-year-old to lose weight and focus on form. Her teacher is a kind, gentle woman who lets my daughter just explore the ropes, the parallel bars, the trampoline and the obstacle course.

The other kids may turn somersaults while my daughter rolls, but she is smiling and laughing and begs to go back on the floor when her class ends. That is success.

Obviously I also want my children to be coordinated at an early age and to start thinking about what they want to specialize in now athletically. I am a very driven runner and my husband was a Division One decathlete who won many state and national awards. Sports are vitally important to both of us.

I don't expect my children to excel in everything they do, but now is a great time for them to explore what they like and don't like. My daughter may decide she hates soccer and prefers gymnastics and then we know what she can pursue. I never force any activities on her. She was bored and hated the last music class we took together and so we quit.

It is also individual. My daughter is much more eager to do organized activities even when she was little. My son is a little more free form and benefits more from mommy and me classes and open space play time. His "soccer" is really more of a roll balls around and kick them with mommy and daddy than learn the rules and Win! Win! Win!

But I always wonder what is wrong with wanting our children to excel. "Slow parenting" sounds all fine and good, but it is also nice, wonderful, in fact, to have a passion and to pursue that passion hard. For me, running (and running fast) has been a point of pride, something that makes me feel good. I am not professional, but running a 3:48 marathon is a life accomplishment I feel really good about. It boosts my confidence. Why would I not want the same for my daughter?

I believe in nurturing talent from a young age and I also know my children better than anyone else. When I saw how fast my daughter can run, how she loved to climb and tumble and how muscular and compact she is, I knew she would be a natural at gymnastics. 

At the end of the day, I can always tell when my children have not been stimulated enough because they don't sleep as well. Yesterday, my toddler had four hours of park time, two hours of gymnastics, time to run in the backyard and dinner with family. When we got home, she slept for 13 hours straight.

If my children ever tell me they feel stressed or they are doing too much, I will let them slow down, but in the meantime, I want to expose them to a variety of things so they have a better sense of where their true passion lies. Yes, even as toddlers.

Do your children take classes?


Image ©iStock.com/mguttman

fun & games, nursery school, toddler activities, toddler development, toddler health, toddler sleep


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maine... mainemusicmaker

Nope.  They don't.  Not because I wouldn't LOVE to enroll my girl in dance classes or art classes, but simply put:  They're too expensive for me and with HAVING to work, I don't have the time in my schedule.

sstepph sstepph

No nothing yet...

Shell Perry

Like the PP we run in to dollar issues but I am not one to shy away from something my son would really like to explore. His school offers many clubs and electives that  will give him plenty of room to explore himself.  Last year he was in art club, science, math club, book club, pen pals, and he took photos to submit to the school magazine. That is a lot on the plate of a first grader. This year he is adding Spanish ot the mix and another art class. Next year if he can handle it and still wants to he will join robotics club. I am constantly having to make adjustments to his daily schedule so as not to overwhelm him but these are things he really wants to do. Should I just tell him no when he has the drive and the resources in place? Unlike most kids his age his school schedule is really flexible allowing him to to extra on some days or take the occasional day off with no repercussions. It works for him, I would suggest it for every child though.

Shell Perry

Well my typos certainly aren't a good ad for our lifestyle. I shouldn't be typing at 5 am after a night of insomnia. 

I wouldn't suggest it for child.

marie... marieagain

I'm with you, part way. My daughter is in gymnastics and we goto the Library for story time. She is almost 3 and not yet in preschool, but she craves a structured and full day. Doing that by myself while being 8 months pregnant is insufferable! I would love for her to be able to be in more classes, but gymnastics already costs enough to break our budget. And she also is very muscular and tiny, hence we chose gymnastics, and she does love it too. She can't wait to get to class every week.

Kimberly Virga

I think that's a bit much. I have an almost two year old, 6 mos along with #2, and I can't imagine shuffling him to three or four classes a week. I do think once he reaches the age of two, or a few months thereafter, I would like to enroll him in a little gym or tumbling class or a music class- two things he seems to love and excel at, he is very physical and very musical and constantly dancing. However, a Spanish class for a 2 year old...really? Didn't they just learn to speak some English?

CafeS... CafeSasha

My kids go to a bilingual preschool and they need the extra boost. It is really just singing in spanish. It is the best time to teach a second language, though.

MomIWant MomIWant

I think you are right, you know your children and how much they can handle.  My daughter was involved in as many things as we could fit in her schedule, my son could only handle one organized activity at a time. 

Samantha Sawyer

Wow..you must have quite a large income to be able to AFFORD all this extracurricular stuff. While I agree that extracurricular activities are great for a large sum of reasons such as social skills, friendships etc..you may be pushing it just a tad..

Agent... Agentmomyyc

I am  going with the opinion that all of these things are for you and not your kids.  I mean really a 2 year old in yoga?lol  He must love that**

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