The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Thursday, 17 January 2013

How Many Clubs Is Too Many Clubs?

Well rounded or well knackered?

We are great believers in creating well rounded children. We like to think that our three should be equipped with enough strings to their bows to play a decent symphony and as a result we have signed them up for the following:

Swimming lessons, hockey club, netball club, badminton, tennis, scouts and brownies, Youth groups, church groups, cheerleading, cycling, choirs, drama, book clubs and football, piano, recorder, trumpet and clarinet lessons. Then there's gymnastics, board games club and extra maths.

The kids love it all. They love the competition of sport, the camaraderie of music and drama and the stimulation of maths and book clubs.

However, as I drive between clubs and reflect on the rich extra curricular existence of my three children I ask myself: "How many clubs is too many clubs?"

Clubs are expensive

Because it is great to be developing these children of many talents. However, it comes at a cost. We are lucky that a lot of the clubs I have mentioned above are run for free by the schools - however, the clubs that are privately run suck up chunks of our monthly budget at a time.

Clubs are time consuming

Again, other than the clubs that are run by the schools most of these enrichments are a car journey away. On Mondays we juggle netball, brownies and piano. On Thursdays we consume petrol travelling between maths, choir and church youth group. Aside from the cash impact; travelling time tends to be stressful time. Stressful time tends not to be conducive to quality family time.

Clubs feed unlikely dreams

I am sitting beside a swimming pool as I blog this evening marvelling at the progress E has made in the pool since the last time I was here. She can crawl, she can froggy leg and she can even swim on her back - smiling all of the time. And yet, will she be the next Rebecca Adlington? Will she bring home a medal of any colour from any swimming gala ever? Sadly no - so is our money being wasted? Now she can get across a swimming pool without touching the floor when the teacher isn't looking do we really need to keep coming back? Or are we just feeding our own dreams? Wouldn't E and the others benefit more from more chill out time at home or should we persist?

Clubs are unnecessary pressure

Because my concern is that the clubs question is an example of us pushing our children into an early experience of the rat race where they join clubs because that is what children do nowadays. A kick around in the park with your mates bas been replaced by scuba diving classes in the local leisure centre while mum and dad sup lattes in the on site Costa. Leisure time is organised time - are we depriving our children of the opportunity to organise their own free time?

I'd love to know what you think.

Speak soon
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