Chosing Good Activities

Now that my daughter is school age, I'm faced with the parenting quandary of our era: Just how busy should our child be? I don't mean to suggest I want her laying around doing nothing. But I also don't think it's healthy for her (us!) to run around from one activity to another, never able to relax and enjoy our home. May I never heard the words "I'm bored; there's nothing to do!" just because we don't have an event planned! 

To avoid this, I think parents need a clear plan of action: Why are we letting our child get involved in this particular activity? And what is the hoped-for end result? 

For us, top priority has been swimming lessons. I don't think any child should be without them, and lessons should continue until the child is a proficient swimmer. This usually takes a number of years. I didn't feel qualified to teach her, so we sent her to a public swimming pool that offered classes. 

A secondary priority has been activities that will help our daughter develop her gross motor skills. Her gross motor function isn't quite up to snuff - a continuing side effect of being born 3 1/2 months early. If your child has physical or emotional issues of some kind, activities that help him or her with them will probably be near the top of your priorities, too. 

Apart from this, there are a wide variety of activities we could become involved in. All are good, but doing too many of them is not. So I've begun to ask myself: What does this encourage in my child? Does it encourage godly attributes? Does it encourage serving others? For example, if I needed to choose between ballet and American Heritage Girls, I'd choose the latter, whose oath includes "I promise to love God, cherish my family, honor my country, and serve in my community" (emphasis mine). 

Even at my daughter's tender age, I include her in the decision-making process, guiding her with questions about what her ultimate goals as a godly girl and woman are. Ultimately, I hope, she'll learn to make her own thoughtful decisions about how she should spend her time.

How about your family? How do you decide which activities deserve your child's time and attention?

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