Eggmaster e-mailed me a NYT story on kids whose growing bodies aren’t quite ready for the demands of competitive sports.
When Violet was little (like 3-4), we resisted organized sports for her. She didn’t show any interest, we didn’t think organized sports were age-appropriate, and we didn’t want to take up any more family time with activities.
Victoria was born when Violet was 4, so I wasn’t about to add games and practices to the schedule. Then came Kindergarten, and a host of family issues I won’t write about now, but one of them includes a fire in our kitchen that forced us to move out of the house during repairs. (9 weeks with no kitchen!!). Violet tried dance, but soon decided that she wanted to have one day (Saturday) that didn’t involve getting up and running out the door.
Then came 1st grade, when life became a mess of meetings with the school, driving to two schools, homework (!), and my own work and massive volunteer commitment. Games and practices again didn’t seem important.
Then came homeschool, and since then Violet has done horseback riding, golf, ice skating, and fencing — so far ice skating and golf are the ones she wants to stick with — and Victoria has tried ice skating and dance (both going strong). The key for success with these activities is in part having them during the “schoolday,” as even the girls, with their loosey-goosey schedules, sense the disruption to the evenings or weekends.
So far, however, no team sports.
I’m thinking of having Victoria do a soccer camp this summer. She’ll be five, and I think she’ll really like it. I’ve had some time to learn about the options and I think we can find an appropriate choice.
With Violet — as always! — I worry that I’ve blown it. She’ll be turning 9 soon, and there are precious few beginning 9 year olds in things like soccer and softball. I’m also just plain not willing to put in the time — 2-3 nights a week. I confess, I put in the time for the play, but that was for a passion and talent of hers, in a setting that I knew to be very homeschool-friendly, very focused on nuturing the talents of each individual child.
We’re not a sports family — neither of us watch sports of any kind on TV. I enjoy things like skating, dancing, and hiking, but team things . . . I was a softball pitcher back in the day, and the pressure was so intense, and my self-consciousness so unnaturally extreme, that even now I wince a bit to think of it.
I should confess I have a special little bitterness reserved for sports culture, which is so often set in competition with a culture I happen to love, that is, academics. It bugs me that from Kindergarten to college, athletic achievement is celebrated, even worshiped, while . . . do I even have to spell this out? It bugs me that kids with unusual athletic talent can “accelerate” in their fields while academic acceleration is in practice, regardless of what a school may say, fought tooth and nail. It bugs me that parents feel free to talk about their kids’ athletic activities, but not about their academic successes. There’s a little irrational part of me that sees sports culture as the enemy.
Still, I think this may be the summer of sports for us, as an experiment with something new. (And though summer is far away, now is the time that summer camps and schedules start to fill!) I know there are many homeschool families for whom sports are very important, especially if sports are a special talent area for one or more children. I don’t think we’re ever going to be one of those families–especially not after reading articles like the one above!–but I do want my kids to have the chance to enjoy some of the benefits of sports, if they want to. And so long as my schedule isn’t too disrupted.