March 23, 2010

A lesson that I have learned....

I read a great article in the local paper yesterday. It was titled 'Lesson Learned' and it described how the author signed her 3 year old up for dance lessons after he ran up on stage and started 'dancing'. She was laughing at herself for jumping all over him and running to the nearest dance studio. When he looked at her as to say 'What are you doing?' She started to evaluate Why she was signing him up in the first place.

She did a great job at describing how parents too often feel the need to get involved in children's creativity. How for some reason this generation feels that if they don't sign a child up for lessons as early as possible that they will never become a superstar. She was right when she mentioned that too many little people are just tired. They are shuffled from one thing to another all day and week long when all they want to do is 'get up on stage and perform for mommy'.
she mentioned how her child did not mention the word LESSONS. He just wanted to have some fun on the stage after his mom's class practiced. He was being a child.

She is right.

So I am really disappointed that at the end of her article she points out that her reasons for putting her 3 year old in dance lessons changed but she was still putting her child in the lessons he never asked for nor really wanted in the first place.
Her conclusion was that we as parents need to change our REASONS for placing our small children in organized activity.She says that she just wants him to have fun and does not care if he is a superstar. She wants him to have the 'social experience'.

I'm confused here. She readily admitted that she may have been a little too enthusiastic, but continued to do it because she wanted her kid to have some fun.

Really? are you sure? Because if you really wanted him to have fun you would just let him be goofy and play a little. Invite a friend over and let them interact on their own.
You would not be shuffling him off to classes on Saturday morning where he will be told how to do this and do that, and not do this and that, and don't lessons involve being quiet and listening? Does not sound much like social interaction to me.

She certainly did not learn her lesson and I fear that WAY too many parents are still not getting it.
We can talk about the over tired/taxed/stressed out children but until parents are willing to plan their feet and listen to their hearts there will be no end to this.

If I signed up my little kids as soon as they showed an interest in things oh the time they were all 5 they would have dabbled in such things as restaurant management and circus training. At the same time I will admit to signing my 4 year old up for soccer because I thought that is what we were supposed to do. What a waste of time and money THAT was.... In that respect I really DID LEARN A LESSON.

So needless to say I wait. I allow them to be kids. To have fun and explore, create and imagine. I wait until they are at least 5, and they have asked me for at least 2 years about a particular 'thing'.

As for my kids not having the opportunity to be the next superstar. Give me a break. If they truly have a talent it will show and they will pick it up faster when they are ready. Just because they don't do it at 3 will not mean they will never do it or better yet, that they WON'T become a superstar. Slow down a little and let them be kids. What is the rush? What's with the push?
They will only be little once so allow them the freedom to think they are the best at everything. Wait to put them into lessons that tell them they are not the best.
Besides...have you ever watched your kids 'put on a play' or dance for you?? It is so creative and they have such a good time. Don't deprive them or you of that joy.
They will thank you for it....and so will your pocketbook.

Just a thought


Daughter to THE King said...

Thanks for posting this! I love your thoughts because I have struggled with this issue and have come to a resolve. I whole heartily agree and say BRAVO! Let kids be kids :o)

The Kerr Family said...

I think I fall somewhere in the middle b/w signing your kids up for everything and just allowing them to play. I agree w/ you that kids are way to overscheduled but I take a bit of an issue w/ the part of your post that implies all lessons for kids under 5 are inappropriate & a waste of money. My rule for my kids is that they can do one activity of their choice (A does karate on Fri. at school, E does dance on Sat. morning) and then it's my job as a parent to ensure that the lessons I'm signing them up for are fun, social, interactive, etc.. I think there can be a healthy balance b/w allowing them to be kids and providing them with some formal teaching in an area they're interested in. I don't put my kids in lessons b/c I want them to become professionals in that area, I do it b/c I'm not a professional in that area and want them to benefit from the teaching of someone who has a skill & passion for that area of interest. I do struggle w/ how much is too much but I think if we listen to our instincts and our kids (and our bank accounts ... b/c let's not forget how expensive everything is!) we can figure that part out.

Alyson said...

I agree with you Sara. I'm o.k with one activity as well. Especially if they WANT to. I was referring more to signing them up to keep up with the Jones' as well as signing them up for things the MOMENT they show an interest in their pretend play.
The lady in the article admitted that the moment her son jumped on stage and pretended to 'act' the next day she ran into the nearest dance studio to sign him up. He asked her what was in her hand and she enthusiastically said dance lessons!! His response was (oh...o.k) She admitted he never asked for them or showed interest but she still did it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alyson,

It's the author of the article here (Andrea). I love your blog so I was so excited to see your response to my article. And I totally see your point--it's something I'm very aware of. However, there's more to the story (that my 750 wd limit prevents me from explaining ;-) My son had a stroke in utero and as a result, has a right side weakness, and a seizure disorder, among other issues. I've exposed him to many activities because I find it inspires him to try new things when he sees other children. Over the past two years, we've attended gymnastics, horseback riding, swimming, and soccer--all of which have been wonderful for his balance, strength and coordination. We've also met some amazing intructors who treat him with respect and care. He has lots of unstructured time to play and be the crazy ham bone he is. I work part-time so we have lots of time to be free. We have a strong bond and he's never forced into things because my intention is to make him a superstar (I'm just grateful he can walk and speak considering he had so many delays)--I just find that exposing him to other people helps his disability. When he expresses interest in anything physical I guess I just get incredibly excited because we didn't think it would happen. The little things (like dancing) feel like miracles to me. Unfortunately, the limits of my article prevented me from making that clear.

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify. Who knows if it's the right thing!I'm just trying to navigate these murky waters to do what's best for my boy. And I laugh at myself along the way.

Thanks for linking to my blog and thanks for reading my articles. I enjoy reading about your experiences.

The Kerr Family said...

Thanks for posting that Andrea. I think as mothers we are trying so hard to do what's best for our kids and sometimes we forget that what's best for ours isn't necessarily what's best for someone else's (not that that's what you were doing in your post, Alyson, I just know I have a tendency to think that my way is the best & therefore only way). Andrea, your son sounds like a real little miracle and a great kid.

Alyson said...

Sara I was not saying my way is the best either. Just my opinion. That is why I have my blog...I do things differently and like to have a voice sometimes.
As for your son Andrea I don't know what dance studio you picked but I love love love LOVE....BOLT in town. SAM IS fabulous!!!!

Oh, and from reading your blog and articles I know you would not put your son in classes if you did not think it was best for him....your article just seemed funny to me as I expected a conclusion that you jumped too quickly on the dance thing. (obviously there was more to it...I was basing my thoughts on your article alone)
your 'conclusions' made me think about us parents in general. It bugs me to no end to see these little people in classes they are just too young for or tired for when all they want is to hang out with mommy/daddy. I made that mistake with my oldest and I get it now. NOT SAYING THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING... just thinking about things in general and telling people what I do...

Alyson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

Have I mentioned that you have great insight! Also - the insight in all of the posts is wonderful and heartwarming. God bless young moms everywhere!