I think my fourth grader is in too many extracurriculars.
He is in cubscouts.
He has a 45 minute piano lesson weekly, which involves daily practicing but only for 30 minutes.
He is involved in early morning choir once a week at school.
And just started chess club.
(In the Fall before it got too cold, he was in three day a week cross country.)
He is in Gifted Education at school so he has more homework pilled on.
I think 5 is way way way too many.
As does my husband, we don't know how to cut any out. Cubscouts is encouraged by church, and I do think its a great program and I want him to be friends with the boys at church. He is nearly a prodigy at piano, he loves it, his teacher loves him, he desperately wants the 45 minute lesson because he gets bored during practice without that much music. I honestly don't know what the thinks about choir, but he seems to enjoy it, he begged to be in it. He and his friends have been talking about being in chess club since it finished last year. He also asked me if he could join the geocaching extracurricular class. I told him it wasn't currently happening, I would have said no if it was happening.
I think children's first job is to play. I told my daughter's first grade teacher, if she gets behind we'll work on things at home, but I don't put emphases homework, after all day in school I think children need unstructured play time, without an adult telling them what to do. She reads at home almost every night, but beyond that I don't push it. The teacher didn't push the issue, and my daughter turns homework in late all the time, with no repercussions.
So I do have a problem with how busy my son is, because I feel like he has no unstructured time. And how busy that makes the family as a byproduct. Everyday his siblings have to get in the car to go get him or drop him off for something, and I think that's pretty rotten for them. All evening long, I'm pushing him to practice the piano first, then pushing him to get his homework done, and he doesn't always have time to practice because of some other activity. He is only around his little brothers for maybe 2 hours in the evening, I feel terrible saying, stop playing with them, and do your homework. The other day I told him he had to put away his library book so he could do his homework. WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH GE? That my child doesn't have time to read his library book because he has too much homework?
I would love to complain about GE to the school, or pull him out, but he loves the actual class and a lot of his school identity is based around that class. Plus my husband always tells me not to push it. I don't really understand the elementary school gifted brain or education, my husband was in gifted programs in elementary school so he understands what they are trying to accomplish but to me it seems like 1. a waste of time 2. an imagination killer. Actually on busy days, when I think he has been assigned to much homework, I do write an x through pages and write a note telling the teacher we didn't have time to finish this page, and I told him he is not allowed to finish it. Plus I follow up with him to make sure he wasn't required to make it up during the day and miss a different activity. The gifted teacher has had A LOT of notes written from me about the amount of work.
So I could cut out a different activity but the thing that REALLY annoys me, to be in gifted he has an Advanced Learning Plan, there is a lot of questions about what extracirriulars he is in and what we do as parents to encourage his learning. If they want outside encouragement they should not assign so much homework.
P.S. As a footnote I'll add, for years I felt blessed to be in this neighborhood school. He was identified as gifted as at the end of kindergarten in both area with a 99%. Which is very rare to identify kids that young, our school has even stopped doing that. He has always maintained his original identification, and always gotten additional instruction to encourage his learning. Which has been fantastic because this child loves school and loves learning and has loved his teachers (even the dead beats). So you know there is something wrong when he tells his dad, I don't like doing this homework anymore. It stopped being fun. Even if it was fun, digging in the dirt and learning about germs would be a far better use of a gifted child's brain after 7 hours of school then looking up Latin roots in a dictionary.