* Thanks to Molten, Snowflake Designs, Sterling Publishing, and ZenZoi for sending us products to photograph.
When my kids were little, we were all pretty content to spend our days and nights at home. Neighborhood walks, hikes at local state/national parks, baking sessions, and get-togethers with friends - this is how we passed our days.
We still love all those things and, as a whole, I would say our family still values time at home and in nature. But - things are changing as our kids grow older and we shift into a new season.
Our kids are now 1, 5, 8, and 11. Over the years, we have done a variety of once a week classes - ballet, tennis, tap, and chess. Our first real foray into the sports world has been with swim team the past two summers.
For this fall, I printed out a list of potential activities and had my three older daughters "rank" them in order of interest. Here are a few of the activities we'll be doing this school year.
Our 5th grader is playing volleyball with her school. It's a small school so the team is comprised of 5th-8th graders. Since the majority of the team is made up of 8th graders, the few 5th and 6th grade players are unlikely to get as much playing time in games - but they will get some solid practice and an introduction to the sport. Aside from a short clinic this past summer, our daughter has never played volleyball so I am impressed by her enthusiastic willingness to try a completely new sport. I'm a bit apprehensive about the time commitment since practices/games are three times per week (hard to manage with a baby!), but it helps that they happen right after school and among friends.
My two middle daughters (ages 5 & 8) are interested in gymnastics and we are tentatively planning to register them for a once a week class with a friend in mid-October. They already love to tumble, cartwheel, climb, and dance - so I'm hoping it will be a blast for them.
All of my girls enjoy art at school, but they also draw/paint outside of school on most days of the week. I recently checked out "Art for Kids: Drawing" from my local library and my two older daughters immediately scooped it up and spent the afternoon drawing. I try to make a point to check out art-related instructional books regularly, but this one seemed to be one of the few that has had "staying power." The instructions are clear and the examples are well-done. This would be a good book to add to a home library or to use as an art supplement for a homeschool curriculum. Best for ages 8+.
Colored pencils are probably the most-used art medium in our house. We also have crayons (beeswax and regular), markers (fine line and wide), gel pens, oil pastels, and acrylics - but the colored pencils get pulled out the most. These ZenZoi tubes come with 48 pre-sharpened pencils made of premium wood. Because they come in a sturdy container, they can easily be moved between desks and bedrooms - even outdoors for nature sketches! My only wish with these pencils is that they were individually labeled with the color name on each pencil for quick finding.
My daughters also take music at school - choir for kindergarten, recorder for 3rd grade, and guitar for 5th grade. Thankfully, most of the teaching happens at school and they have minimal practice requirements at home (5-15 minutes per day).
When my oldest daughter played violin for school last year, the requirements were much more intense (30min/day, 5days/week). The added practice time and required focus payed off - she learned so much and played beautifully toward the end of the year. She misses violin and has expressed interest in taking lessons again this year, but I don't think we'll be able to swing it. So hard to squeeze everything in!
I'm trying not to pack our schedule too full this year - especially since we have a just-turned-1-year-old in the house. It's hard to know what to prioritize because I want my daughters to have opportunities to "get their feet wet" in a variety of sports and fine/performing arts activities. Most recently, they have expressed interest in tennis, science, theatre, chess, pottery, and photography. Plus, my 8-year-old is eager (EAGER in caps) to take horseback riding lessons.
The truth is, though, you have to pick-and-choose.
In our family:
In order to make time for these things, we select only one activity per kid at a time (and older kids usually get priority). I have learned that each new season brings change so I'm sure our schedule will look different when we aren't working around a baby's nap schedule and attention span.
What extracurricular activities are your kids participating in this year?