If you’ve got children, you have probably enrolled them in some sort of after school activity at some point.
Swimming, football, dance, drama, music, brownies or beavers, gymnastics…the list of opportunities is endless.
Sometimes these classes are truly child driven. Your child loves to dance or sing or kick a ball, so you find a class that allows him or her to do what they enjoy, with the bonus of an audience.
But other times, the child has not asked for lessons or classes in this particular skill. You, their parent, choose the class because you think they would like it or it would be good for them. You might have chosen it because you’d have loved to have done it as a kid, or you may think the class is essential. Lots of little girls end up doing ballet because their mothers were never allowed lessons and many people consider swimming classes essential, for example.
It doesn’t matter why your child(ren) started the class, unless they really, really adore them, the chances are high that at some point they are going to come to you and say they don’t want to take lessons any more.
What do you do? Do you let them give up straight away? Or do you insist that they finish the term? Do you listen to why they want to stop? Or do you just say sorry you don’t like it, but you have to keep going?
I tend to do everything I can to encourage my kids to continue with an activity that I think suits them, but I’m fine for them to stop after the term has finished if they haven’t clicked with it. I’ve let them give up gymnastics, trampolining and various after school clubs after it became evident that the child and the activity were not a good fit. I don’t feel at all bad about these decisions.
I have also stopped lessons that the kids have enjoyed because they were too expensive, or didn’t fit into our timetable. Stage school ( Ballet/singing/ acting/ tap and modern dance), gymnastics for DD1 and karate for DD2. I did feel a little bad about making my children stop these, but our schedules were just too full.
But there are a couple of things that I’ve insisted my kids continue with. Brownies and Beavers, because they are social and cheap; swimming until Y6, because it’s a life skill and music lessons, because they are all quite musical and being able to play the piano ( and one other instrument), are great skills to have.
And just recently DD1 and DD2 have come to me and told me they no longer want to play with a local Youth Orchestra. They have been with this group for 3 and 2 years, and it’s taken up 3 hours of their term time Saturday mornings, as well as many evenings for concerts during those years. It’s hard work but the standard of music is high and up until now I think it’s been a good use of their time. Recently though, DD1 and 2’s enthusiasm has waned, and this term they have decided they don’t want to go back. They are still learning two instruments each and are playing in their school bands/orchestras so they are not giving up completely; they just want a break from playing in youth orchestra.
Initially I tried to persuade them to continue but in the end I’ve let them give up. I have spent years ‘encouraging’ ( IE making them practice) them to develop their musical ability and they have done really well. They are in years 8 and 9 now, they are busy with school work and they are getting too big to ‘force’ to do anything they really don’t want to do. And I don’t want to put them off music completely, who knows, if I back off now, they might go back to it of their own accord.
If you have a child that loves an activity, for goodness sake let them carry on with it if you can afford it or you can fit it into your lives, but if your child hates something he is doing, or has no affinity with what they are learning, then what’s the point? Life is too short, surely?