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Us Educational System & Significance Of Extra-curricular Activities

Discussion in 'Schoolgoers & Teens' started by Bubbles, Jun 11, 2020.

  1. Bubbles

    Bubbles Silver IL'ite

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    There are so many extracurricular activities to involve kids in.
    Not having a working knowledge of the US education system makes me worry a lot about my kid's future. I am surely not the only one. In India, scoring was the primary thing. Good scores could get you into good colleges and extra-curricular activities were added feathers-in-the-cap kind of stuff. Or interest based.
    In US, it seems that out-of-textbook-study-activities have a lot of say in the kid's future prospects : college admissions to prestigious institutes etc.
    So what kind of activities, what level of excellence is required? Yes it is individualised, but any general pointers? How does one start planning to expose children to these kind of things? Lots of questions... Volunteering, Olympiads, Science Fairs, Coding, Sports activities, Dance, Musical instruments, Singing.... I hear so many people doing so many things. What really helps? What is for the sake of interest / rounding your personality, and what is necessary for aiming at elite institutions? (Not asking out of ambitiousness, but to know the terrain). At what level of education (what grade) should a parent start getting their kid involved in these..?
    Would really appreciate the experience of parents of kids who have gone down / going down this path...
     
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  2. blindpup10

    blindpup10 Platinum IL'ite

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    @Bubbles- My kid is too young to push him to get into an elite school. I am not trying to mold his personality. I want him to be comfortable with his personality and focus on what he truly enjoys doing. I feel my job as a parent to introduce him to different structured activities that could spark an interest in him.
    So far, my kid hs tried soccer, dance( not ballet or Bollywood), yoga, swimming. He truly enjoyed soccer and dance. I see the spark in him and how he enjoys it even when he not in the class.
    He did his first dance recital as well. It is better to start kids younger on a path that they will enjoy. They might not enjoy every moment but it will be helpful for them to practice one instrument or sport religiously.
    My friend's kid started swimming, piano, and math classes from the age he was 5 and up. Now he just graduated from middle school. He is one of the best pianists.
    My cousin didn't do any extracurricular- She did couple of internships at Google/ classes at NASA all throughout high school and graduated High school this year.
    My other cousin took up vocal after he graduates from middle school.
    Perseverance is what counts, not changing class to whims and fancy of the child's liking or trying to force children to do something just to get a spot for the elite school.

    After COVID I want my kid to be in a math school, one instrument or sport.
    If these activities get him anywhere in the future than just joy and happiness I will consider it a bonus.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  3. ProudIndian

    ProudIndian Gold IL'ite

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    You should introduce your kid to different activities different times e.g. start swimming from age 1 or start skating from age 2, dance or karate from age 3 and see how much he or she enjoy. U can decide and continue as per kids liking your convenience etc. swimming skating are necessary skills that u must. Start at least one sport from age 3 like soccer or baseball and see. Every child should have one sport and music/dance activity. Slowly you can narrow down what child likes. There is no formula for college admissions. Here also academic score has highest preference then other activities. Activities are good for kids personality development.
     
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  4. Bubbles

    Bubbles Silver IL'ite

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    I agree with you here, @blindpup10. My intentions here are far from trying to be a helicopter parent - it is more to educate myself. I do not know the education system here. And I don't want to be 'taken unawares' : For example, I recently learnt that kids can directly go to first grade here if they have 3 years of preschool training ie they do 2 years of preschool + 1 kindergarten year at learning centres. Until now, I was under the impression that it was preschool (optional), kindergarten compulsory, at 5 years. Wow. My kid will be joining kindergarten, and I wouldn't be doing this, (yeah yeah I have these doubts with such a small kid :) ) but I'd rather know about these things.
    I notice a lot of folks going for a lot of activities, and we are literally spoilt for choice in this regard, I feel. So I am trying to get the 'big picture' of all this. Classical Dance in US - Reality Check was what got me typing out this post, to get my longstanding doubts clarified...

    Thank you for the real life examples you mentioned! And btw, it's nice to see back here. I remember your posts from my LO's infant days, when you had a lot of wise words! I think our LO's are at more or less the same age. :beer-toast1:


    That is a good suggestion, @ProudIndian
    Oh, phew! Thank you for reiterating this!
     
  5. blindpup10

    blindpup10 Platinum IL'ite

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    @Bubbles As parents, we are always looking best for our kid. Trying to learn, on lookout what's the best opportunity out there for our children. I didn't mean that you are being a helicopter parent. trying to accept children's personality should be a parent's goal.
    I have got comments from family as well as friends, that I am introducing my kid to different things that may not lead him into a good college path. Believe me, my own mom has told me. And comments like " need to measure my time, tuition vs the outcome".
    I despise this kind of thought process, be it from my mom, friends, or anyone. I don't mind sharing my 2 cents. If no one spoke up or actually said anything its the child who will be drained. Maybe not mine, but a child is a child.
    My sister and I were one of those children drained out as no one actually spoke up to my parents.



    By the way- my kid is starting kinder as well this Aug. What are you thoughts on sending your kid to school with all COVID? I am soo not ok sending him anywhere out of the house. Although our state
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
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  6. Mehana

    Mehana Platinum IL'ite

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    My younger child starts kinder as well ...I am scared to send him to the school. Not sure would they give parent option to select online learning during the fall.

    Reading on online most of the schools preparing to open in the fall with less kids in the classroom, no sharing materials, mask required during entry/ exit the school.

    Till now I am not comfortable at all to send my kids back to the school
     
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  7. nuss

    nuss Platinum IL'ite

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    @Bubbles - I am sure we all go through these worries as parents. My son will be going to 2nd grade and daughter will be a kindergartener this fall.
    My son started Martial arts when he was 3.5 (extra class at daycare) and he loves it. We also tried Gymnastics because DD loves gymnastics but he quit after 2 months. He has been doing Martial arts, ski, and swimming.
    My daughter is in Gymnastics and taking swim lessons. She didn’t like Martial arts and quit after a year.
    We try to keep activities manageable so we can spend quality time with the kids instead of always driving them somewhere. I hope they stick with something. If not, they will figure out what they like.
    Enjoy this time with your child. Our time is the best gift we can give the kids.
     
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  8. Bubbles

    Bubbles Silver IL'ite

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    @blindpup10 Yeah, it is a balance I feel.. I would love to let my kids explore their world and develop interests, rather than prod them into some activity. Having said that, I have seen a lot of 'successful' kids while growing up who were frankly prodded into their activity, but took to it well! Eventually, a child's interest will determine their future, and we parents can only support. I like this balanced approach of offering activities to gauge their interest : kind of like how we are (supposed to be) feeding our kids too : give healthy options, let them choose and take as much they want..

    I like this POV.

    Regarding school, LO is ready for KG this year..@blindpup10 @Mehana but we are very much confused what to do.. Don't really want to send now, but I really don't know what is the end point either..
    People around me, both Indians and others, are not really keeping up 'social distancing'.. I have kids in LO's preschool talk during their online classes about going out to play or visiting places with their parents (!) We have been following SD pretty religiously, so we don't really know what to do.
    I don't think it will be possible for kids to practise SD wear masks etc at this age. There is definitely a risk. My question is, how do we know this risk is going to reduce next year? How will I keep LO occupied if I'm called back to work too? H wants to drop this year; he is reluctant even to send her to preschool.. He is right from the infection standpoint, but I doubt it will be feasible to keep my child indoors for another 6 months without any social interaction (winters here get really bad)... I worry if that will be too bad for her.. and I've no idea about how I will handle homeschooling on top of work..
    I don't have any answers here.. just thinking out aloud.. We are still undecided.
     
  9. nuss

    nuss Platinum IL'ite

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    I think most of us are worried about going back to (or starting) school. Personally, I don’t think the USA is ready to open schools. Staying back a year at kindergarten age won’t be bad in my opinion but in our case our second grader will need to start his classes whatever format it is.
    My own experience of online teaching (to upper level undergraduates) and my son’s Zoom classes, I don’t see the online format working. We were lucky in spring, kids already knew their teachers and classmates, starting a semester online will be hard.

    Social distancing is not really working in most places. People just don’t take it seriously. We take kids to open parks (no play structure) because we are fortunate to live next to a national forest/ state park area. We have been going out most every day to see the duckling and gosling and all other wildlife. Most days it’s just us.
    We started sending our kids to preschool camp from last week and just hoping that everything goes well. If we have to keep them home, online classes, our full time work with in person/ online teaching, I don’t think we will be able to handle it.

    Just like you, I am just thinking out loud. I don’t have any answers. Just taking one day at a time!
     
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  10. MalStrom

    MalStrom IL Hall of Fame

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    How is the infection rate in your area? My state was very good with the early lockdowns and mask rules. The number of new cases are declining. I have been back at work part time since mid-May and my baby has been going to daycare since then. There are only 3 kids instead of the normal 8 there. My state is slowly opening up now so I hope people stay vigilant. No word yet on whether schools reopen in fall.
     

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