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Is it worth it to keep activities for social only?
Thu Mar 14, 2013 09:57

A's now 8, and I'm running into problems. For the last few years, she's had several things she's done that haven't been a bad fit, and have generally led to having 1-2 friends in each. But, this year, I can see that all of them aren't as good as they used to be, and wondering what to do next year. I know from experience that if we drop the activities we share with these kids, and I'm not seeing the parents to arrange get togethers/go to the park after class, etc, the kids probably won't see each other much if at all.

Anyway, here's what we have.

Once a week co-op. I started this with several other moms 3 years ago, and then it was great. About 15 kids, ranging in age from 5-13 or so, who got together and did science or world studies once a week, followed by eating lunch and playing outside.

Well, the co-op has now grown. Grown to four classes. And the age split, started this semester, is preschool, K-3rd, 4th-6th, and 7th-12th. A is one of the oldest in the K-3 class this semester, and tolerates the class because of two kids in it. The content, frankly, would have bored me to tears at her age, so I'm sure it's boring her, too, even though I've always treated "bored" as a bad word in my house. The teacher is allowing her to do research on a topic of her own choosing and present it to the group each week, and that she likes. I think she'd be happier in the 4th-6th content-wise, but she'd be quite young for it, even next fall, but that group is NOT a good social fit for her. While the kids were fairly nice in the multi-age group, puberty has hit, hard, and it's turned into exactly the kind of mean-girl cattiness I was hoping to avoid. A used to have a couple of kids she got along well with in that group, but since the split happened, she's been pretty thoroughly rejected by them. They're "tweens"-and at age 8, she's NOT a 'tween. Her interests aren't "team Jacob" or "team Edward". She's the one who rejected most of SL core 6 because "There's all this kissing and marriage and stuff!". She loves animals-most of these girls are in the "ick! a spider! kill it!!" stage-even though they would happily have been chasing and catching frogs a year ago.

I can't see that changing between now and fall. And I don't know that I want it to. I was the kid who was still making up stories with my dolls and volunteering to babysit so I could play with the little kids when I was taking college classes as a teen, so I can easily see A. going that route.

If I leave A in K-3, she'll be even more bored, but will have the kids she likes and who still share some of her interests. There are a couple of other animal-crazed kids there, who I think see A. as their natural leader, and who love her. But it's a wasted day otherwise-and I don't know how happy she'd be next year with being held back. She understands that the grade she's working at has nothing to do with her "School" grade-but next year she IS a 4th grader.

Science--A has been in a nice lab science class for 2nd-5th graders, which has been great for her, and where she has several friends who share an interest in science. Unfortunately, since the instructor moved her up early, she will be done with the course curriculum at the end of this Spring. The next level is for 6th-8th graders, and while A can handle the content quite easily, I can't see 6th-8th graders accepting a small for her age 8 yr old as a peer. A doesn't handle repetition well, so I can't see repeating units, and while I've asked (begged!) her instructor to come up with something new for next year, there's a significant cost to the program to do so, and most kids simply don't NEED more units-the parents do it for a semester and then do something else, and even if the child ends up repeating a set of units as a 5th grader they did as a 2nd grader, they do so at a different level. But A. was already functioning and working with the 5th graders at age 6, so she doesn't have the higher level to bump up to.

The third is dance. A's been with the same group of little girls since she was in preschool, and they're the kids she can just be silly with-dress up in costumes, choreograph little routines, and so on. But this year, the girls made it to the age/level where the number of classes increased and the pressure is on, and it's not working well with A's perfectionism. She feels like she can't live up to the teacher's expectations, and often ends up breaking into tears on the ride home because she feels she's failed. I don't think this is a good fit for her psychologically anymore. She needs physical activity, but she needs fairly relaxed, recreational activities that let her work at her level and let her have a break from what she does more seriously. Dance used to be it-but apparently that's not an option once you get past about age 7.

My heart is telling me to not enroll for any of the three in the fall. But if I do, I strongly suspect A. will not have anyone who she can easily see just for casual playtime, won't have people to invite to her birthday party, and so on. She has 2 friends who are actually more cognitive peers for her-one is moving to Mexico sometime in the next few months, and the other is split between two divorced parents, and getting together for playdates is next to impossible.

I can try to find other activities, but from what I've seen, many of the things in the area, by A's age, have been going on for years, and since A. struggles to make friends, I can easily see her going into a new group and just plain not connecting. She tends to push people away if she fears rejection and is, frankly, not the easiest person to get to know (unless you're an adult-she'll talk to adults for hours). Joining a drama class or a different dance class, for that reason, is unlikely to get her the same social connections she has in established groups.

I just don't know what to do.

    • UpdateDonna, Sun Jun 23 18:51
      Well, the co-op problem seems to have resolved itself in some ways. Next year, there will be two separate co-ops. One with the grade level classes that's trying to be more academic, and one that's... more
    • Sorry this is gotten so difficult. I agree that A should have a say, but with your guidance. Will the 4-6 group have all the same kids next fall or will some of the "meaner" ones move on? Will any of ... more
    • thinking about responseDinky's Mom, Fri Mar 15 18:49
      Donna, This is my first year to be able to participate in extra homeschool organized activities, because of DH's work and my job ending. My first thought was We don't do coop because it is not a fit... more
    • What does A want to do? It's her time. Her friends. She may be willing to sacrifice for certain friends and not for others. Dropping all 3 activities at once may be more than she's willing to do.... more
    • Is it worth it to keep activities for social only?Rachelle in NZ, Fri Mar 15 01:25
      Hi Donna, in my case no. I used to worry and fret about birthday parties and "socialization" and DS needs to have friends. I realized in the end that DS did not care nearly as much as I did. We found ... more
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