The one about extra-curricular activities

9 Jun

I am watching L2 in his swimming lesson. He’s clearly imagining he’s a giant or ogre, storming through the water with enormous steps, conquering the oxygen/hydrogen molecule combinations blocking his path. This is not necessarily the fastest route to feet-off-the-ground-no-fear-of-drowning-independent-swimming, but it makes for entertaining viewing.

Saturday swimming has become a ritual for the whole family.  I think swimming’s a vital skill to learn.  Not only is it great fun, but it can, of course, save your life, so we’re wedded to our Saturday morning classes regardless of rain, shine or how late we’ve risked staying up on Friday night (there has, on occasion, been pain in the fulfilment of swimming obligations if Friday has got a bit too out of control!).  However, it leads me to consider all the extra-curricular things that the Ls would love to do but which we just can’t fit in to the schedules we have to stick to.  By Machiavellian manipulation L1 does Cubs and trampolining, because both are post 5.30 on weekdays; L2 now does footie on Sunday mornings, whisked from Junior Church before they file into the service proper (probably to everyone’s relief).  But it is difficult to fit in more of their passions, which would be more sport for L2, and dancing for L1, both of which just can’t be done in time available.  Understandably, after-school classes for kids of the age of the Ls tend to be immediately after school, making them unfeasible.  And while we’ll happily dedicate weekend mornings to their out-of-school pursuits, the rest of the weekend has to be family time, for we get precious little of that.

For me this is one of the trickiest balancing acts, and one that I regularly feel bad about.  In an alternative and less hectic reality, would she tread the boards at Sadlers Wells?  Would he play for England?  Are we stifling skills that lie latent and always will, because schedules won’t allow for trial?  Where do talents develop from?  Do they emerge regardless, with time as the mere conduit to their fulfilment, or are they dependent on the opportunity to try and try and try new things?  School supports rounded development as best it can – and we are, I believe, uniquely fortunate in the opportunities our school can provide – but it is obviously actually there for learning the curriculum not activities which, by their definition of ‘extra-curricular’, will never be delivered by a school.

This subject will remain unconcluded; I don’t have an answer and can’t imagine one will crawl from the undergrowth any time soon.  We’ll carry on doing the best we can with the time we have, and hope that does the trick.


2 Responses to “The one about extra-curricular activities”

  1. averagechildhood June 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    I agree – and have the same concerns I might miss encouraging something for all I know he would be a natural at. I just hope as his mom I’ve been paying attention to what he seems to like and dislike!

    • lizrossmartyn June 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      Thanks for the comment – I think you’re right, it’s a case of keeping a close eye to make sure that if they do show an interest that’s the thing you encourage!

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