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What do you think about out of school activities? Extra child-care or a chance to shine?

Alpha Mummy on the Times Online ran a poll entitled Why do you schedule out of school activities? and linked to a story Why all pushy mums are not the same. About to embark on the new school regime as Elf goes into Reception year this September, this is all becoming familiar territory for me instead of just random articles whose absurdity made me laugh almost as much as laughing at school-gate cliquey mums. (I now know they do exist, but I have been informed by two Year 1 or 2 mums at the Cheese'n'Wine evening at my son's infant school last week that it doesn't exist at that school. That's either true, in which case good, or untrue as maybe those two are the culprits!)

The article brought up a current issue with me which I have now resolved internally but would welcome your thoughts on. We currently do trampolining on Fridays and swimming lessons on a Saturday. I don't count swimming as an activity as such, because in my eyes it's a life skill and as our family holidays are based around water, it's essential he learns. However trampolining is a point in case. He has achieved badges 1 and 2, (I feel like a real mum now because I sewed my first badge) but now he just wants to run around with Woody and Jessie and not work for his badge 3. Woody is the same and us mums have almost decided not to renew the course after half-term. They did enjoy getting their badges and they did really understand that they'd worked for them, but the lure of the play pits and other equipment in the gym renders the lesson unuseful and to be frank, I'd rather take him to the park and save £5.20!

When he goes to school, I will send Elf to the after school club on a Monday so I can do a long day to keep my hours up at work. At the Cheese'n'Wine we were encouraged to send our children there once or twice a week regardless of childcare needs just to give the kids a chance to socialise with the other years in a non-classroom setting. I'd already justified it to myself saying it would be like a club for Elf, and that's exactly how the school see it too!

I am not a helicoptor mum hovering over my child, although I was heard to say last week in trampolining "If you don't concentrate, we are going home!" but at the same time I want him to experience as much as he can, but balanced with the ability to make his own fun. At the moment, before the Wii obsession kicks in, he is rather good at this. Our Funday Friday last week consisted of Elf and Woody sitting in the middle of some bushes collecting grass in their buckets. Long may that last.

What are your views on out of school activities and clubs? How many do you see as the right amount? Is there such a thing as overscheduling?


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