Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We are four weeks into a school year, and we are already making changes to our after school days. Here is why.

Letting Go of Things

When Smarty was younger, it seemed that we managed to fit a lot of activites into her after school time. For once, her school days were shorter, for twice, she did not really have to apply herself much in school and had plenty of downtime built into her days as she had time to read in class or to daydrewam.
Well, things certainly changed in middle school. Smarty is in a project-based school that involves a lot of collaboration and hands-on work. Overall, she really enjoys it, but she is sensitive to noise, and she comes home "fried". The last thing that she wants is to start yet another activity, especially something that requires thinking. This is why an Art of Problem Solving class that she optimistically signed up for ended up to be such a drag. The class was very challenging, and she felt trapped in it for 90 minutes on Monday afternoon with a load of homework on top of it. In fact, she shared with me that now she knows how it feels to "feel dumb" in a math class. She could not even follow the discussion, because sometimes the instructor skipped some steps or used terms that were not familiar to her.
We don't like to let our daughter quit activities, but this time the choice was clear. We agreed that we will replace Art of Problem Solving class with 3 shorter sessions during the week where we will go over Algebra 1 concepts ensuring that she fully understands them. She will also have another session to do her homework for her weekly math club. We are also meeting with our math teacher tomorrow to discuss opportunities for accelerating her to the 8th grade math, since she already passed 7th grade end-of-the-year test last spring.

Balancing the Week

Dropping an after school Monday class allowed us to rebalance the rest of Smarty's after school commitments. She now can go to her taekwondo class on Monday, Wednesday, and one of weekend days, so her Tuesdays and Thursdays just have her musical rehearsal that is time consuming enough - 90 minutes rehearsals leading to mid November performances. On Friday, she will have her middle school competitive mathematics club, so her days are still busy, but not as crazy as before. In fact, in these last two weeks since we made a decision to lighten her load, we saw her energy and her cheerful mood returning. She is also more willing to volunteer help and much more pleasant to be with. It's nice to have our bouncy Smarty back... at least until the next crisis hits.

Your Turn

How do you balance structured and unstructured time in your house?

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