I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about my kids’ activities, and Covid is not helping. Last year, L took ballet one day a week and jazz dance one day a week. Then, during the summer she did swim team, after a Covid delay. I also have been teaching her piano since school got cut. So, in summary, during the school year, she did dance two days a week plus piano. In the summer, she did swimming four days a week plus piano.
L’s ballet school promoted her from pre-ballet to Level 1. (I’m sure this is standard unless the child is really struggling for some reason.) Level 1 ballet meets twice a week for an hour each time. They are doing virtual classes this year, but it’s still a really big commitment. L used to want to be a ballet dance but has been rather lukewarm on it lately. I’m not a huge ballet fan myself, but I don’t want to influence her interests and choices. I initially thought she should stick with ballet this year since twice a week isn’t too much time and the online aspect makes it much cheaper (cost cut by more than 50%) and saves us a lot of driving. But L said she doesn’t want to do it. I am 100% sure I could convince her to do it – not make her, but make her want to do it, but I haven’t done so. I feel like if she tried it one more year, she’d start learning more advanced skills and maybe like it more. L has been more enthused about swimming lately, which I think has a lot to do with the fact that swimming is in-person. We had been talking about having her do swim team for a couple months in the fall, but they meet five days a week, so I think it is really not feasible in combination with ballet. But what do I know? And she could go to swim three days a week or something. (There are no meets, so I don’t think it’s a big deal to not attend all the practices.) However, because of Covid, swim lots are very limited, so it’s harder to be casual about it – planning and financial commitment is called for. L is already signed up for contemporary dance at another dance school where she originally studied ballet, but that class is on hold indefinitely, until the governor moves the county to Phase 3. My assessment is that this will not happen before the new year. But again, what do I know?
I have all these conflicting desires for my kids.
- I don’t want them to be overscheduled
- I want them to participate in the arts – dance or music being the most obvious choice
- I figure if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it well, which means time commitment
- I am turned off by ballet, the obsession with thinness, what it does to women’s feet, and generally I find the traditional ballets uninspiring
- I feel like ballet is a really good basis for doing other types of dance
- I don’t know enough about dance to provide any kind of support at home, like I can with piano, soccer, swim, etc.
- Team dance (the alternative to ballet) requires a five hour a week time commitment. I think that’s too much at age 8/9
- I want L to experience team sports, but she’s really turned off by any sport in which she might get hurt, like soccer or basketball
- I think it’s really important for the girls to be involved in athletic / fitness activities. My kids, especially L, would much rather read or sew than move their bodies. L takes so naturally to things like piano, sewing, reading, origami – things that involve focus and sitting still. She doesn’t seem to have as much natural aptitude for soccer, dance, etc.
- I think you can become very good at anything, including things for which you have no natural aptitude, with consistent practice over a period of years
- But it’s nice to do things at which you naturally excel and enjoy
Bri did soccer once a week for a few weeks last fall. I was hoping she’d be able to do junior swim team this summer, but between the baby and Covid, I just wasn’t able to get her into lessons to make that final leap in skill level. She took swim lessons twice a week this summer, and she appears to be ready for junior swim team. (She can swim a length of the pool freestyle fairly comfortably.)
Right now, I’m leaning towards signing up L and B for swim for September. That would be 3:30 to 4:30 for L, five days a week, but I figure we’ll give her at least one day off. I’ll continue to teach her piano, and we’ll hold off on dance (unless the dance class she’s signed up for starts) until October or November, at which point we’ll sign her up for some kind of virtual dance class. L will do swim twice a week from 5:30 to 6 through September. I worked very hard with Bri, in addition to her lessons, this summer, and doing at least a month of junior swim team should solidify the skills she learned. The swim place is ten minutes from my house. It’s an outdoor, heated pool.
I’m just tempted to put L in ballet. It IS remote, and with no school, I do think she has time. Such a hard call! The tough part about ballet is that you’re committing for the whole year. In a couple years, I’m sure L will make up her own mind about what she wants to do, and I won’t have enough influence. But for now, I feel a lot of responsibility because she still listens to me.
I’m sure this is more detail than any of you cared to read, but I’m curious if anyone else is struggling with these types of decisions for their kids, and what you’re doing.