One of my daughter's favorite things to do is play with her neighborhood friends.
They play together constantly and come up with so much using their imaginations. Thankfully, this keeps them from being bored and asking to watch TV or use a tablet. I’m so thankful for their relationships with each other and how much they learn from playing together.
She also loves her activities. She does tennis, swimming and golf in the summer, and gymnastics, dance and piano during the school year. It’s been a nice balance of different activities with still plenty of time to just play and be a normal 7-year-old kid.
School started six week ago, and with it has come the homework. Her homework includes mandatory spelling, plus recommended oral reading and math, which totals 20 to 30 minutes a day.
Additionally, she has been moved up to the next level of gymnastics, which now requires four hours of time at her gym each week. When you combine that with dance and piano, there is very little time for homework — let alone playing.
It breaks my heart.
This issue is one of the many things I’m torn on as a parent. How many activities is okay? How much homework is acceptable?
Do I have her do the encouraged math, even though we generally discourage the use of tablets and computers when we are at home? Do I let her do the gymnastics class she loves, even though it cuts into our dinners half the week? If I say no, she’ll get put in a class that I’m sure she’ll be bored in. This might lead to her stopping the sport. I feel torn and hope some of it will just work itself out.
As adults we strive to have a good work/life balance, but it’s hard to teach our children that when they go to school all day and have homework in the evenings. Right now I'm working with her on the homework that is mandatory and, going forward, will encourage her to pick activities that leave us a night or two of normalcy.
That is, until my youngest starts doing his own activities. When that happens — like it does with most families — life will become even more complicated.
There might not be a right or wrong answer, but I would sure welcome any ideas on how to balance school, home, activities and fun for elementary school students.