For someone who is only four, B has a pretty busy wee life. As well as two full days in nursery (from 9am til 5pm), she also has a ballet class, a gymnastics class and a drama class. She’s learning to ski, and although she doesn’t have proper swimming lessons, hubby is teaching her to swim and they tend to go to the pool once a week. Add into that playdates, trips to the library/park/garden centre, it’s a wonder we have time just to hang out at home!! I do think it’s important to encourage interests and hobbies from an early age, but how much is too much?
I’ve been very conscious for the last couple of months that things will change once she starts school. Going from two days a week at nursery to five days a weeks at school (albeit shorter days) will be a big change for her, and I expect for the first term at least she will be pretty exhausted. She’ll have homework and new friends to get to know, playdates, birthday parties, existing friends to try and fit in as well. Something will have to give. But what?
The first decision we had to make was about her dancing. I will confess to encouraging her dancing, because it was my ‘thing’ when I was younger. I did ballet, tap and Highland until I was about 10, and I did Scottish Country Dancing from the age of 6 until I was 17, and actually qualified as a teacher! Anyway, when we got back from Center Parcs in May, we had a letter from the dance school about classes after the summer holidays. B is currently in the pre-school ballet class, so obviously a move to the P1/2 class makes sense. However, the letter said that “most children” choose to do two types of dancing – ballet and either tap or jazz. Hmmm, well the dance school would say that, at more than £6 for a half hour lesson!! I didn’t even really give it much consideration. B’s current class is on a Tuesday afternoon, and the P1/2 class runs straight after the pre-school one, and we will probably have to go straight from school. Another class on the same day would mean B not getting home until almost 6pm, which is a long day if she’s been at school since before 9am. It’s also pretty expensive – not just the cost of the class, but the outfit and shoes, costumes for shows, exams and all these things will soon mount up. So we’re sticking just with ballet (so are her friends who go to the same class, so I don’t know who these “most children” are!!).
Next up, gymnastics. B has been going to gymnastics for just over a year now. She does a little bit of badge work every week, and now has four badges, then the rest of the 45 minute class is kind of free play around the gym equipment – balancing beams, trampolines, climbing stuff, plus mats for forward rolls and stuff. There are two ladies who supervise, but apart from the badge work bit they don’t ‘teach’ the kids anything as such. B loved it when we first started going, but recently has found it a bit boring – repetitive I guess. She was offered a place at the next class up, but it’s at 3.40pm on a Wednesday – the centre is right at the other side of town, and it would be a major rush to get there from school, so we said no thanks. I didn’t think B would be too fussed, but the last couple of weeks before the holidays, they were taken through to the “big girl’s gym” with all the proper gym equipment, and she got to jump in the pits which she thought was super exciting, and now she is really keen on sticking at it!! I’m sure we could probably find a class on a Saturday, but that would mean giving up drama.
We started taking B to drama at the start of this year, partly because she loved the Xmas show she did at nursery last year, and partly to see if it would give her a little bit more confidence, as she was quite shy. It’s an hour on a Saturday, and there are two things I really like about it. The first is that it’s a ‘pay as you go’ affair – you don’t have to pay for a whole term in advance, so if we’re away for a weekend, or if she has a birthday party or is not well, it really doesn’t matter. The second is that I tend to leave A at home with hubby, which means I get an hour to sit in the café and read my book!! 😉 But the main thing of course is that B really enjoys it. There’s singing, dancing, dressing up, games, and if she stuck with it, she would have the chance to take part in shows. I’m not a pushy mum at all (at least I really hope I’m not!!) but B loves singing and prancing about, and I want to encourage her to enjoy those things before she’s at an age where she’s self conscious about it.
Because drama is just a drop in class, she sometimes misses it to go to a skiing lesson at the dry slope near our house. Skiing is very much hubby’s thing. He was brought up very close to Ben Nevis and could go skiing every weekend during the winter. He’s tried to teach me; it almost ended in divorce!! I’m too old and too scared – if we ever went on a winter holiday I’d be sticking to the après ski! Anyway, B absolutely loves it and is actually very good. She’s had several private lessons now, and actually has her own skis and kit! She could join the kids’ ski club which I think you sign up for in blocks of 12 weeks, but hubby seems to think the private lessons are still the way to go for now, probably once every four or five weeks. While it holds absolutely no interest for me whatsoever, I think it’s great that she will have the opportunity to learn as a child.
The other thing I’ve put B’s name down for is Rainbows. There was no such thing as Rainbows when I was a kid, but I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide. The one I have her name down for is at the community centre beside her school, so I’m hoping it will give her a chance to socialise with some of the girls from her class (she doesn’t go to the school nursery so will only know one or two kids when she starts P1). She has to be 5 before she starts though, so that won’t be as soon as she starts school. Although now I come to think of it. it may actually clash with her ballet day. Hmmm, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!
So that gives us ballet and eventually Rainbows on school days, and drama and possibly skiing on weekends. I really think this is plenty when she is going to have to adjust to the school routine, and if it looks like being too much for her then we will rethink.
I would love to know what other people’s pre-schoolers and school age children do outside of school. Do you think we do too much? Not enough?! Would love to hear your views!