Share Your Advice on Lessons

Share Your Advice on Lessons

piano

Today’s post is more me asking for help than me sharing tips or favorites. You see, my children are 1 and 3 and I’ve started to think through the upcoming years … our school plans, vacations when we don’t have to cart along diapers, future siblings, those sort of things. But mostly, I’ve been thinking through lessons.

My oldest is 3 and is in preschool this year and from the sounds of it, many of these kiddos are starting lessons already – soccer and ballet, even piano. Now, I know that many stars are quoted saying that they found their talents at young ages, but 3? That’s just 36 months, ya’ll! Is that the going age to start trying out various activities?

So, parents of preschoolers and elementary school age children, these are my questions:

  1. When did your child(ren) begin lessons?
  2. How did you decide what they enrolled in?
  3. Do they participate in something year round or just occasionally?
  4. How do you fit practices and recitals, games and meetings into your family schedule? Do you have limits?

Of course, I want everything for my children. If they fall in love with tap dancing, I’ll listen to hours of their practicing. And if they choose to play football, I’ll sit out in the rain cheering them on through every yard they run. But when to start? How much time, money and energy to invest? Where to draw the line and how to gently guide their interests? That’s what I’m still thinking through. So mamas who have gone before me, mentor me in your ways. Let’s talk lessons today and I’ll send a big thank you and virtual hug your way!

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Gretchen hails from the beautiful Pacific Northwest along with her husband and two young children. Before transitioning to life as a stay at home mom, Gretchen worked in sales and marketing while earning her Masters in Management and Organizational Leadership. Now her days are focused on managing meal plans and nap times while organizing her sewing stash and children's toy bins. My oh my, how life changes in the blink of an eye! Gretchen writes frequently about natural parenting, becoming more environmentally conscience, her affinity for thrifted treasures, and hopes of making it out of yoga pants each day on her blog That Mama Gretchen (www.thatmamagretchen.com).

12 COMMENTS

  1. I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer. It is whatever fits your family schedule and your child. I felt pressure to sign Bishop up for things starting at about 2.5. We did a little sports class that some days he liked and other days he would frustrate us that he wouldn’t participate when we knew he could and would do it all the time at home. Then we thought maybe it was too overwhelming learning multi sports so we should narrow it down to one. We did soccer because he loved soccer at home. Again we ended up just getting frustrated because he wouldn’t participate like the other kids or like we knew he could so we decided to take a break and reasses later. I think he didn’t like the attention on him when it was “his turn” and everyone was looking at him. After a little break we signed him up for private swim lessons that he LOVED. Now we are doing private tennis lessons that he loves. Maybe it is/was the instructors or maybe he just isn’t into team sports. Sometimes you just have to try a few things to find a fit and by all means make sure it is fun. When I realized I was battling with him to participate because I was embarrassed that he was the kid off doing his own thing and thought it was a reflection of my poor parenting that he wasn’t following the instructions I realized this wasn’t supposed to be the outcome – for him or me. He is supposed to have fun plain and simple and be excited to go.

  2. Thank you so much for all chiming in! I loved reading over your schedules and so appreciate you sharing your family’s plan/schedules/etc.!

  3. As a music teacher, I will tell you that music lessons should start no earlier than age four. Exploratory Music classes (like mommy and me classes) before that are more appropriate. 🙂

  4. Free unstructured play is the best thing for children under 7. Resist the pressure to keep up with the jones’s! Trust that your child will learn a tremendous amount if left to discover their own talents.

  5. With my daughter we let her decide when and what. So when she was in preschool we let her try ballet and tap, that lasted a month and she was bored out of her mind. So I pulled her, no sense in paying 80 bucks a month to make a 5 year old cry. Next we did soccer, just the fun fair positive soccer, we learned she isn’t very coordinated and had a temper, great goalie though. Now we are on to cheerleading but through upwards, a Christian organization, they just cheer for the game in progress. She loves running with her group called Girls on the run. But she is now 9 and we still have not let her find her special ability. I do believe swim team is next and maybe piano lessons. But we don’t push and let her choose, we’re just happy she stays active.

    Now we have a 13 month old that was born with the strength to lift her head, climbed out of her crib at 6 months, started walking at 9 month’s, can pull and push furniture everywhere she wants, and last night showed us how she can do a somersault. Still puts her foot to her mouth, I think we got a gymnasts. Not to mention she’s short and full of muscles, I believe we created the mini hulk.

  6. My son is currently 4 and is taking his first lessons. He is taking Martial Arts. We found a fantastic program aimed specifically for 3-5 year olds. We were very lucky to score a free trial class, which gave us the chance to see how he would do in that setting. He thrived, we decided to write the check. He loves it.

    My daughter is 2.5 and is the most flexible kid I have ever met. I have always wanted to do gymnastics, so when I stumbled across a Mommy & Me gymnastics class I jumped on the chance.

    So far we are intending on keeping both in their classes as long as they remain fun for everyone. I am not hoping to have the next Bruce Lee and Mary Lou Retton, I found an indoor activity that they enjoy that gets some energy out in the deep winter.

    We are fortunate to work opposite shifts, I work days, my husband works nights. He LOVES Martial Arts so it is a highlight of his week to take my son to class one morning a week. Yes my son misses a small portion of his preschool, but he is there 5 days a week and missing an hour once a day to work on his discipline and focus is not hurting anyone. My daughter’s class is a weekend class, so I get to take her. Right now they really do not impact a lot of our schedule. I will let my kids choose a single class at a time that they would like to take. I don’t think they need to have multiple classes. They enjoy it, great. They don’t, when the session is over we don’t sign up again.

  7. We homeschool our 6 kiddos & have vacillated back and forth from all to nothing as far as lessons, sports, etc. There are still times we bite off more than we can chew, but I think we’ve finally come to a place of some balance. We didn’t start our oldest in organized activities until he was 8 – for him, that was perfect, because he has some significant attention deficit, and needed a bit of maturity before I felt like I could leave him with others successfully . Our next 2, were around 4. Currently, our 5 yr old is not in anything because I don’t think she has the self-control and ability to mind others to be in group activities yet. So, I guess I’m saying, it has depended on the kid as to “when”. I think my 3 yo is probably getting close to being able to do some activities independently. Although, last year, my younger 4 all took a Music Together class with me and that was really fun, and I could guide their behavior still. Other things are instructor-dependent as to when to start – our piano instructor won’t take anyone younger than 8, and depending on the kid, might make them wait until 10.

    As far as “what” – that depends partially on the kid and what they want to try, but now that we have so many, it also is partially dependent on what everyone else does. I can’t be everywhere at once, so I have to streamline a bit. My first three all take piano, but we have an instructor who is willing to come to our house – I don’t think we could do it otherwise. My older two are both into theater and art, but have also taken dance. My third is a dancer, for sure. He use to take 2 classes a week, but it got too much for our schedule, so he’s had to cut to 1 class a week for now. My 4th wants to take dance, but that may be waiting until next year.

    We have finally come to a way to limit that makes sense for our busy life (and our budget). Each kid may take ONE activity in the spring, and ONE in fall, in addition to piano that I have chosen as important for everyone to take for two years. Then, we take summers off all extra scheduled activities. My oldest takes both community theater classes and ceramics with a local artist. I allow him to take both, because he works to earn the money for one, and (at 15) gets himself to and from the art studio by bike. He is motivated enough to make both happen, and it doesn’t create more work for me. I try to encourage them toward taking things together to streamline trips & time, but that doesn’t always work.

  8. My 4 year old has been doing gymnastics since just before her 3rd birthday. We started her in gymnastics because she was always jumping and flipping off of things so it seemed like a good fit. She has class once a week and in the summer she did a summer class that consisted of 5 half days. She also goes to preschool but the gymnastics place has a schedule to accommodate most people. Financially things got right for us this last year and we had to stop going and my daughter has been asking when she can go back, which means she really enjoys doing it and she even still practices at home. We are trying to figure out when and what activity to start our younger daughter (2.5) in. Also we have a baby due any day now so who knows when we will have time for anything for a while

  9. We started our daughter in dance when she was 2 and now at 4 she absolutely loves it! She is constantly dancing around the house! We tried soccer at 3 and she didnt like it so when the 6 week season was up we were done. She asked to try tball last year so we let her and she loved it. We will do it again in the spring! She also just started gymnastics and loves that! We let her be the decision maker in what she does! Most of the activities we have done are through the city’s parks and rec program so it is all pretty inexpensive which is a nice way to determine if they like something.

  10. I would like to point out that you are neither a good or bad mom weather you start your kid out young at lessons. I hate that i feel this pressure to put my kids in activities and lessons at a young age or i’m not a good mom. Our kids need us more then they need to learn to tap or whatever.
    My kids get to do a once a week thing around 3, but only if they are interested. I do intend on my kids all learning piano, but will not start them until they are at least in 1st grade. That is plenty of time to learn it to benefit them. I don’t think the whole world needs to be professional dancers, atheletes, or musicians however if i see my child express desire or talent in this area i would do what we could afford to do.
    I also would put a stop to al the activities in order to have more family time. Our family relationships are more important then lessons.

  11. I have a two year old and she has been attending The Little Gym since she was 6 months old. She really enjoys it. We’ve also recently put her in swimming lessons, and I started Mommy & Me dance class in August. She likes most of the activities, but hates the tap dance portion of dance class so we just sit out.
    It’s been fun watching her develop and learn (waiting in line is tough!).
    I stay at home, and all of her activities are in the morning.
    I feel like I’ve overloaded her, and I plan to eliminate some activities based on what she enjoys and doesn’t enjoy.

  12. I’m a stay at home mom to my 4.5yo and we put her in soccer last season. This year we put her in gymnastics and ballet b/c one of her friends said they were going to too. She loves gymnastics but not so much ballet, she’s made that clear that she’s be willing to give up ballet for soccer even though we told her she could do all 3 if she wanted. Right now she’s got to stay in b/c we already paid for her costume and recital fees months ago haha! I have always planned to homeschool her so scheduling shouldn’t be a huge problem, but that might change after this new baby comes in February!

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