14 May 2013, by Petrina Kow
Who needs Soccer School
I’ve been feeling little pangs of guilt recently for not ‘scheduling’ my second child with enrichment classes. With Victoria my first-born, I was a little over enthusiastic and had her in music class at 5 months, gym class by the age of 9 months and Chinese drama class at 10 months. She’s also had piano lessons, taekwondo, swimming, ballet and art class. She’s been exposed to so many different classes and experiences and of course now at 10 years old she’s given them all up save for ballet! Money well spent Mum!
With my 5- year- old son however, well…he’s had 3 drum lessons and some art classes but only because the art teacher lived downstairs. I recently had conversations with some of my mummy friends and we all concurred that the second and third children in the families tend to be ‘neglected’ this way. Why is that so? My unscientific theory is this: it’s not that we are lazy or can’t be bothered, it’s actually because we are wiser and more experienced. Or at least that’s what I tell myself to assuage my guilt! The sad truth is that we are tired, and yes, we are lazy and we have also realised that adding all those lessons does not necessarily equate to more ‘educated’ children.
In this age of over-scheduled kids, I die a little inside whenever I listen to other mother’s rattle off their children’s weekly schedule. The kind of back to back enrichment that would put a CEO’s schedule to shame. Kudos to the parents who actually do the ferrying of kids to and from these enrichment classes, but most of the time, they’ve also got the transportation outsourced. Have we lost the plot a little? Are we so obsessed with pumping them full of ‘knowledge’ that we’ve forgotten our primary role as parents? I recently had one of those Oprah ‘A-ha’ moments that led me to think about what that role exactly is.
It all happened one evening when I was home with my kids rushing out some proposals and trying to meet some deadlines. Oliver came over and asked very nicely if I could go play with him. Most of the time, my answer would have been, ‘Not now dear, Mummy’s busy!’ But for some reason that day, I said, ‘Sure Honey. What shall we do?’ We decided to go downstairs with our soccer ball and have a little ‘match’. So I dusted off my gym clothes, got dressed, went to a grass patch and started kicking the ball around. In those 30 minutes of play, we played a match where he very closely ‘beat’ me 10 to 9 goals, we did some kicking drills, we exercised and burned some calories and had a really fun mother-son bonding session in a traditionally father-son kind of activity.
This is what I learned in those 30 minutes of play. It really doesn’t take much to ‘educate’ our children. I don’t know very much about soccer but I can at least kick a ball! Well, good enough for a 5-year-old anyway. In just half-an-hour, we learnt sportsmanship, we learnt to keep count of our goals, we also learnt that slippers are not appropriate footwear for soccer. The many life lessons that we keep expecting our teachers to inculcate in our children are easily available to us and best of all they’re FREE! We are our children’s best teachers. And children learn best when they are not being ‘taught’. I find those kids who are given lots of free time to tinker and discover their own joys in life are those who are the smartest, most articulate and fascinating human beings I’ve ever met. So yes parents, it’s ok to ‘neglect’ your children. It’s ok to just let them play at home. And there are so many fun activities that you can engage your children in without spending any money. Crafting, cooking, or riding a bicycle. Pick one that you enjoy and let them discover theirs. And then sit back and enjoy all that free time you suddenly acquired.