July 20, 2011

"everybody" plays soccer.

our neighbor here in Oregon is a PE teacher, and his family is very into sports.
over dinner (at my PE teacher neighbor's house) we were discussing whether or not my kids would be on soccer, football, baseball, track, volleyball, dance, teams...
i was unsure.
the comment was made, "everybody plays soccer here."
and i laughed.
this statement has echoed in my brain.

i was up this morning, nursing the baby at 4am, and couldn't go back to sleep.
i know that if i want my kids on FALL sports teams, i need to call and beg- soon.
we missed most registration deadlines.
i have been pondering and praying for the past week... 
as parents we have such an important role in shaping our child's future.
a child's extracurricular activities sets the TONE of their whole school year, i think.
i have regret that i wasn't more involved when i was younger...
i want to give my kids every opportunity to succeed in life WITHOUT over scheduling them.

I am a firm believer in seasons.  And, I'm OK taking a break when I feel that our family needs a break.
This past spring we scaled way back... as in, we did no organized sports.
With moving and having a new baby, I just knew that is what our family needed.
And, I love the seasons where my kids are at home.

But, this is a new season... and I'm feeling a tug towards effort and involvement.
we were very involved in sports BEFORE the professor went back to get his PhD.
The boys stayed pretty active in sports while we were in Texas.
The girls did soccer, and basketball, and dance.
But, we were a bit lazy with them... not making it to practices and not working with them at home.

do i think that every child NEEDS to play soccer? 
or any sport for that matter?
that is a good question.
a question that keeps me up at night pondering...
and, want to know my answer?
yup.  i think every kid should do something physical.
Physical/Social (sport), Musical (instrument), Spiritual (Church), and Intellectual/Social (school).

i don't believe sports are about innate SKILL...
i think sports are about learning to work hard, to keep trying, to exercise, to play on a team, to listen to you coach, to TRY... even when it's hard.

This is also why i FORCE strongly encourage my kids to play an instrument.
(i tell them, "just till your 18 or can play all the hymns in the hymn book", but we'll see how life happens).
they don't have to be good, but they do have to TRY.
to practice, to go to lessons, to be consistent.
consistency is good.
we've had piano, violin and french horn.  (wouldn't the harp be fun?)

life is always about finding balance...
and I think MANY people are way out of whack when it comes to sports.
sometimes that makes me want to PROVE to the world that my kid doesn't have to be in soccer to be a great kid.
And, I believe that.

But, when I am humble, and prayerful and pondering...
I come to the conclusion that I want my kids to learn the lessons that they learn from sports.

*NOTE-- my kids are still young... I'm not sure how long I will continue to ENCOURAGE their extracurricular choices.  I do give them a choice of WHAT sport they want to play or WHAT instrument they want to play.  But, i highly encourage them to do something.  So far, it hasn't been hard finding something each of my kids are excited about.  I do make them stick with their choice for one season (sports) or one year (instruments).  Remember, for me the lesson is NOT how well you play, it is CONSISTENCY and EFFORT. 

And, there are SO MANY sports out there.  I love soccer because it is so HEALTHY and it is a good team sport.  The kids run a lot and learn to work together.  (i HATED baseball... ugh- too long, to inactive.)  But, we had lots of ideas for my kids who don't love soccer...  basketball, track, tennis, horse back riding, dance, football, swimming, biking, lacrosse, roller skating, etc.  I also think there are a lot of great non-sport, active alternatives... scouting, drama, 4-H, sewing/art classes, etc.  Oh the possibilities!!

Not all my kids are the same.

Jakob, 12- loves soccer, basketball, and track. 
He will do club soccer and school cross country this fall.  He will take piano lessons at home, and play French Horn in band at school.  He is in honors classes at school.  Jakob is dyslexic.  He had to work hard in school, but was still in HONORS reading and math and got straight A's.  He didn't love piano, but I insisted he take lessons and he is VERY disciplined with practicing.  He wasn't super excited about band, but ended up LOVING it.  He came home saying, "Mom, I already know the stuff they are teaching because I've been playing piano."  Yup, two points for mom.  We started him in piano in second grade.

Drew, 11-- he LOVES piano, chess and school.  He has played soccer since he was little and doesn't really like it.  He likes basketball, but would prefer a game of chess.  He has been taking piano since first grade... and he practices all the time.  (*Note- I started my boys on piano at the same time with a darling BOY teacher-- I used DIFFERENT curriculum Faber and Faber and Bastien, so that my boys wouldn't be competing... I'm so glad I did this.)  Drew was in honors last year, in chess club, and got straight A's.  This fall he is excited to try football (with my encouragement), and will play basketball again in the winter.

Anna, 9-- she's done soccer and basketball (she isn't really excited about either).  She's taken 2 years of ballet/tap.  (I love a very disciplined dance class... love it.)  She played violin Kindergarten through second grade, but switched to piano last year.  (She really wanted to play piano, although I had dreams of her being a concert violinist.)  This fall she will dance and play the piano.  Anna really wants to ride horses-- and, we'll put her in lessons soon.  But, this Fall, I think we'll stick with dance. 

Ellie, 8 (almost)-- she has played soccer and danced.  She is the kid that is taking the most of my concern this morning.  It has just been easy to put Ellie together with Anna (because they are close in age).  She could dance, but I think she could be good at soccer- she loved it once.  But, she doesn't think she's "good" and doesn't really want to play.  I think she just needs someone to work with her.   Todd or I will be the assistant coach for her soccer team this fall and really work with her.  Ellie loves to play the piano... and, it helps that she started piano in first grade (when Anna was playing the violin).  So, she is more advanced than Anna.  That worked out good for our less-confidant child.

Leah, 5 (almost)-- she did dance last year, but was too young for it... or is just not a compliant child.  :)  I can't wait to get her into soccer this year... she asks about soccer daily.  She turns 5 on Sept. 1st.  I am not putting her in kindergarten (although I could).  I'm putting her in an academic preschool for two mornings a week and I'm excited to plan a little home-schooling for her and lily. 

*NOTE- I have put 4/5 of my kids in a real preschool the year before they went to kindergarten.  They have loved it, especially my very social girls.  I had one kid, Drew, who cried for a couple of weeks and didn't want to go to preschool... I kept him home with me.  I never regret that decision.

Lily, 3 (almost)-- just home...  maybe I'll find a little dance class or a Kindermusic class to put her in.

*NOTE-- so far, all my kids have been in the GIFTED program at school.  They were nominated by their kindergarten teachers... but if they were NOT, I think I would nominate them myself.  In our school, the gifted program is not advanced math or reading... it is an elective type class that does fun creative thinking projects.  Really, any kid would benefit from this.  Plus, I think it's good for my kids to think they are a "smart kid."   And, remember, my oldest child was in the special ed program for dyslexia.  He was the only child in the school who was in special ed and gifted.  In middle school he dropped his dyslexia class and signed up for HONORS reading and math... and got straight A's (in fact he got five 100's).  He tries harder than any kid I know.  What's my point?  I think it's more about EFFORT and discipline than it is about skill.  But, I might eat my words on that someday.

Every day we have to choose how we are going to parent.
school, homeschooling, private school?... sports, no sports?... music?... clubs?... play dates?...
bedtimes, meals, vacations, clothes...

I am unsure from year to year what my focus is going to be... and so I ponder and pray and discuss things over with my husband and wake up early in the morning trying to decide what it best.
I blog about my decisions, not to say that my way is best. 
Every child is different, every family is different, we all have different seasons of life...
I blog because every day I learn from people around me. 
Often the spirit speaks to me when I'm talking with someone else... I feel like, "Yeah, that's right for me."
OR someone else's ideas help bring my own inspiration. 
so, read this for what it's worth.
perhaps it's not WHAT your child does that is important... just that in some way you, as a parent, are involved in their life...  knowing them, giving them opportunities to become, to learn, to try...

today, i believe "everybody plays a sport."
just one.
we'll see what i believe tomorrow...

??What do you think??  What are your favorite extra-curricular activities?

1 comment:

Steph said...

The eternal quandry. . .what's too much? What's not enough? We've tried baseball (way too much down time and way too many "stars" to deal with), soccer (very fun for our family in the low-key venue of Primary Soccer league), and swimming. Swimming has been our winner hands-down. For Todd, 10, the ability to improve and compete not only with other kids but also against himself has been perfect. I think team sports have a place and are a venue for some kids to really shine, but individual sports are just the ticket for other kids who need other kinds of motivation.

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