Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Great Expectations, Again

I have written before about my tendency to build things up and then be disappointed. The hardest part of my life to avoid this in is with Pk (which I have also written about). I know I am going down that road again and I can see myself doing it. I don't want her to feel pressure but it's such a struggle.

This time, it's highland dance. Pk has wanted to do dance for a while (she twirls around, singing this funny little ballerina song she has made up and she must wear the ballerina costume from Halloween last year at least once a week). Again, if you have been around here a while, you know that I have serious reservations about many of the dance classes out there. We think we have found a solution.

A couple of weeks ago, we decided that we were going to a local multicultural festival. I went online to look up which performers were scheduled when so that we could try and go to something Pk would really like. I stumbled across some highland dancers and decided to look them up. I found not one but two schools in the area and both advertised starting kids at three. My family background is Scottish and Irish and when I mentioned the idea to my English husband, he really liked the idea (in his words, Pk will fit in with all the other "pasty faced" British kids, LOL). It's great exercise and the costumes, while expensive, don't look like something that escaped from Las Vegas. After several emails, Pk is registered for a class in September.

Over the last couple of days, I have had so much fun trying to get her costume together. For the class itself, she needs a leotard, knee socks and gymnastic shoes. We went to get those today at the local dance supply store. I was shocked at how overcome I was by her cuteness. It brought back all my memories of ballet as a child and it was all I could do to keep from buying the ballet shoe case for her that I had always wanted (at around age 6, I was ballet obsessed!) I could feel myself get really, really excited about this. Yesterday, I went looking for her first kilt (which she wouldn't actually need until January Robert Burns events but a kilt isn't exactly an easy last minute purchase). Again, when I found one (luckily, there is a Scottish shop in the town where my doctor is and I had an appointment yesterday), I could feel myself getting so excited about this. Everyone comments on how English Pk looks with her porcelain-white skin, rosy cheeks, blue eyes and strawberry-red hair and in a kilt with knee socks, she will be adorable. I never knew that I had it in me to be so overwhelmed by the cuteness of my daughter and the scary thing is, Dh is no better than me right now.

I am really talking to myself about not getting too excited about this and being ready for Pk to either be too young or to hate it. I have no fantasies about her as a dancing champion and I don't plan this to become the centre of our lives but I would really enjoy it if this was something she would like to do. I am setting myself up for disappointment and trying so hard not to. Cross your fingers for me.

As an aside, as I am rambling about parenting thoughts today, I have also been pondering how many classes are too many for a child. Let me say, I am not ambitious for my child (at least, not excessively so, I would be lying if I didn't admit to wanting her to be successful enough that she can follow her dreams, whatever they are). I don't see her as the next Mozart, the next Olympic swimmer or a champion dancer. I have always been a person who loves to learn how to do things - the list is long of the things I have learned and the list is even longer of the things I want to learn to do. It spills over to my child(ren) - this fall, Pk will take a Music for Young Children class (she's done a music class since she was 18 months), swimming lessons, highland dance and I hope to have her in the storytime group at the library. I hear so much talk about ambitious parents who have their child in everything and I worry that somehow, I am also that parent, although I have different motivations (I don't believe my child is gifted, I am not getting her into things to give her an edge over the rest of the world and I am not especially concerned that she will be behind everyone else for not doing these things). Baby Bean will do the Mainly Mother Goose group a the library and swim lessons in the winter term. How much do you think is too much? Do you see anything wrong with a child doing lots of classes? In my mind, since they still get lots of unstructured time, lots of free choice play and they aren't going to school/Montessori/nursery school, there isn't anything wrong with trying to stretch her horizons and help her develop interests. I have to admit that I have even struggled with not putting her in more, since I have heard of at least three other things I would love her to get the chance to do (soccer, horseback riding and bowling). I think I have found a good balance. I just want her to be able to find her passion and pursue it.

How do you handle classes for your children? How do you set limits or decide what to allow/encourage your child to pursue?


  1. Well, you are home this year, and she is not in daycare full time, so there is more time for more classes. I think circumstances change - G's daycare does Sport Play and sign language, she is in French Immersion at school, and we read to her at night, so we just sign her up for swim lessons every session, and sometimes one other class - she's tried gymnastics (fail), jazz dance, ballet, and soccer, which she loves but is short and seasonal. We don't have a ton of time, but I feel like she's getting some exposure and some chances to try things. If she got really into one thing, as she gets older, we might get her into a more serious form of it that means more time, but for now, casual Parks & Rec is enough for us.

  2. Wow...I will probably ramble here so watch out. I am trying really hard to "buck the norm" here and be a minimalist when it comes to scheduling my kids (and ultimately myself). I've been trying to only put the kids in the car once during the week (weekends are exclusions since we go to church and family outings). I want my children to be children...to enjoy the simple things of life like playing in the back yard and at home. I don't want them to ever feel "entitled" to do whatever they want to do.

    Now that I am jumping into homeschooling, I am trying to be even more intentional about outside things. That being said...my girls do music and are learning the violin. But I am their teacher, since that's what I do. Would I take them and pay for this if I wasn't able to do it? I don't know. It's definitley worth it, but I don't know.

    We go to the library once a week. We used to go to story time, but I've strayed away from that some because it was becoming too much, and I found myself having to drag the girls out of the house to go.

    We are in a homeschool co-op, and that seems to be the only thing on the schedule these days. Once a week for 8 weeks in the fall, and 10 weeks in the spring. We also did 2 sessions of swim lessons this winter (twice a week for 5 weeks), which we will likely repeat.

    I am staying away from organized sports teams and dance lessons for now. I'm sure both would love sports and Kay, at least, would love ballet. But I just don't want to go down that road. Of course, as I said earlier, I find myself going against the flow in most things I do! I think you can expose your children to lots of things within your home and within the context of family, but I'm weird! : ) Right now they aren't asking for anything so I'm not offering anything.

  3. As a Music for Young Children teacher, I generally recommend parents not enroll their child in more than a couple activities at a time.
    Music practice requires consistent daily practice, preferably at the same time each day, 5 days a week. In my opinion, music lessons should continue for many years, because it is enriches development in so many ways and extends to other disciplines. The other activities could be varied from year to year.

  4. Thanks for your input! We all balance it differently, I guess. The hardest part for me is deciding what should go - given that Dh and I both studied music at university, having a child who is musically literate is essential to us and while we could teach her ourselves, we believe in the benefits of the social interaction of a group programme. We see swimming as a basic life skill (the number of drownings in Ontario this summer is prime explanation of that) and dance would provide excellent physical exercise as well as posture, confidence and a connection to her heritage. Parenting choices are never easy!