For our family in any given school year there's soccer, basketball, tennis, karate, chess, school carnivals, catechism classes, talent shows, back-to-school nights and other events like book fairs and school dances. There's plenty to leave parents feeling more like cab drivers and personal assistants to their children than actual parents. Still there's always a way to manage without feeling like you broke the bank and overextended yourself (or your children).
This last school year, my son was able to join a few different after school sporting activities, but we stick to ONLY one per ten-week period. This allows him (as a 1st grader) to sample different activities and myself as a parent time to juggle one after school sport's commitment at a time. In doing this my son discovered how much he loved soccer and karate. As a second grader the plan then becomes to skip basketball and tennis for more time spent in karate and soccer (while keeping both on opposite schedules). All in all, we do our best to avoid juggling more than one athletic commitment at once.
Next, my son and I plan a day of learning as part of regular extracurricular commitments. I find this critical to stick with the concept that outside-of-school-learning is fun and like any extracurricular event requires time allotted to it. We pick a regular weekday that includes a trip to the library, math drills on the iPad and anything else educational in nature (i.e. museum trips, bookstore browsing/reading, etc).
Finally, I shop around! Extra curricular costs can pile up. So ask around. Check the local paper or parks and recs. offices for deals. For instance, my son didn't join a karate dojo where he was regularly dressed in the standard karate robe. Instead, he joined a more affordable after school class where a local sensei came to his school once weekly for group lessons. When it was all said and done, he loved it and completed his belt test - very happily earned an orange belt. Moreover, I didn't he even thought twice about not being in a dojo or dressed in a white karate rode.
How do you manage extracurricular commitments?
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