[This post is written by Tharini of Winkie's Way and crossposted there.]
Last year, I enrolled Winkie for a couple of classes a week. It was at the local community center and I enrolled him for Karate and a keyboard class called Kinderkeys. I thought long and hard about which classes he should go to and how many per week. Asking him doesn't yield any real answers, because he says yes to everything at first, or no to everything at first and only later does he actually figure out which one he likes and which one he doesn't. So I figured, something that gave him a physical outlet for his energy and something which nurtured his artistic side. So a little bit of each world neatly packed into 1 hour classes, once a week. It turned out to be good decisions, because he enjoyed both of them. But beyond my own initial enthusiasm, I began to bristle under the effort to chauffeur him those evenings on cold winter nights and manning a hyper Thambi for 60 minutes. Add to that the need to get him to practice his keyboard lessons. Eventually, it boiled down to too much of work for my lazy self. After the winter break, I did not enroll him because of our coming India trip and what a lovely breather that was. Now the spring session enrollments have begun and my stress level is once again peaking.
This is going to be a rambling post so please bear with me. Here I am questioning so many things...is it necessary for him to go to these classes? I guess NO, not really. And yet, the answer is a resounding yes. Its not purely the peer group or competitive angle....it boils down to something simple. As parents we want to guide our children to be exposed to a wide range of social situations, and also give them an extra curricular avenue to round their personalities. Right?? Now I know I would love to provide my son with the opportunity to learn music, because it is a soul thing. It gives sooo much of joy. And a physical sport builds physical confidence, no denying that. You make more friends, you have fun. Right? So based on this, maybe my reasons for him to go to class are valid enough.
Now the next crucial question. How many classes? What classes? There is sooo... much of choice out there to dazzle the mind. I look at the brochures and the my greedy mind jumps to each one of them and says...I want this! And THIS! And THIS! There's chess, and playacting, and gymnastics, and soccer and taek won do and painting and swimming and chess and ....! Phew! Just to navigate through these array of activities and calm your mind down and decide on a select feasible few is in itself a task. Forget about the driving around and dropping off and practice sessions. Come summer, and the dynamic is that much more complex with all the varied outdoor activities and camps. Oh my God! Makes me just want to curl up under a blanket and go to sleep like a weary child, never to wake up and decide!
But wake up I must and decide I will have to, because I can't settle for a no-class life too, and be at peace with it. *shudder* No classes????? Blasphemy!!! So at least with that sorted out, I have decided on what I would like for him to be involved in this coming session. He needs to continue with the karate, because we have already invested in the uniform!! He has to continue with the Kinderkeys class, because we already paid for the next book! He needs to start off on swimming because he wants to go for swimming, and everyone must know how to swim. Right??? And I want him to learn carnatic music, because our families are very involved with it, and any offspring of mine will have to live up to that innate expectation. And perhaps, one more sport thrown in?? Maybe soccer, so he'll learn team spirit etc etc???
So those are my picks and my reasons for the picks. I realise that I sound ridiculous, stressed, hypocritical and downright unsound in most of the logic....but you know how it works!! Tell me now...how you, as a parent feel about all these classes and how do you make the best choices possible? What are the pitfalls to avoid? And are we all going down the right path in giving our children opportunities to explore all of this? Will it really round their personalities? Will they feel grateful for this later in their lives? I just need to find a balance in my own perspective...and your inputs will help.