So most of you know I have 2 young boys, one 5 1/2 (turns 6 in October) and a 2 year old, so needless to say life can, at times be pretty "hyper". For those of you that don't know me on a personal level, let me give you a bit of a history lesson, don't worry this won't take long, but you will see it relates to this post. My husband is a retired professional soccer player, so our life, our home is pretty much soccer, soccer soccer. He continues to play as often as possible and coaches at least 2 teams and has his own soccer training/speed & agility business as well- (shameless plug: www.tw9soccer.com) So you will NOT be surprised to hear that our 5 year old is obsessed with soccer. Yes, he is obsessed with the Power Rangers from time to time (when I allow him to watch it) and Batman, his DS and of course his Wii, but this soccer, it takes on a whole different level.
I was also an athlete in middle/high school and started playing field hockey at a very young age, probably 8 or so. But now they start them younger..my son has now been playing on a rec league since he was 4, granted he has a late birthday, so in league standards he was considered a 5 year old. To see a bunch of "5" year olds running around on a soccer field was quite comedic at times, but frustrating as well. I have seen my son "play soccer" and he knows how to play and I think he is quite good for his age, but he goes with the flow. If everyone else is chasing the ball, then he chases the ball too. So I had to just let it be. Afterall, as long as he is having fun right??
Well that brings me to this year, he is now in kindergarten and is playing soccer with an older age group U-8 and I can tell the biggest difference overall just from watching the practices. He is engaged, he is passing the ball, etc. Both my husband and I are very pleased with the level of play that he is now engaging in AND he is having FUN!! We were also asked for him to try out for a U-8 Development/travel team as well. This would be a totally different team that would travel and compete in tournaments etc. To be invited to even try out is a great accomplishment for a kid his age (again he is only 5 right now). The "Soccer mom" in me was excited, proud, wanting to brag about it, etc. Then I sit back and ask myself...is this TOO MUCH? Soccer practice will now be 3 nights a week (if he makes the development/travel league) Are we, as his parents, putting too much pressure on him? Is he really having FUN or is he doing it because he sees that we are having FUN watching him develop into a better player?
The transition to kindergarten has been seamless and for that I am so lucky. But 3 nights a week now consist of, hurrying home off the bus, eating dinner early and getting homework done before heading back out the door for practice. Get home from practice, quick shower and to bed he goes. There is no down time for him 3 nights a week, there is no time to just relax and not be rushed out the door. Are we doing him a disservice? Yes, I have talked to my husband about this (remember retired pro soccer player) and he says, well I was playing at 5. Yea, but that was 35 years ago, I think the pressure on kids is much different these days. We have both agreed that the moment he says he isn't having FUN anymore, then we are done. I will not force my child to go to soccer practice or games if he feels it is a job, not at this age. Now, if he was older, then I would share with him the idea of commitment to your team, etc. but NOT NOW, He's 5!!!!
What do you think? Are your kids in extra-curricula activities? How much is too much for you and your family? I would love to hear your thoughts..