I am a believer that kids need the opportunity to be kids. Meaning, that they need to have free time to explore the world around them. Unstructured time to discover their likes and dislikes, their talents and areas they may be weak in or not enjoy. They need the time with their parents and siblings.
I find that parents are often so intent that their child learn different things, and be GREAT at those things, so they have them way over scheduled - running from activity to activity. Where is the time to sit down and bond? Where is the time for them to just have fun - to lie down on the floor and be silly together? to imagine what the world could be (dinosaurs living in the backyard; unicorns running around the street) Not having to rush through dinner to get out the door to swimming/gymnastics/hockey/karate or whatever it may be?
Kids need time to be free. They need time to run around the neighborhood discovering nature; time to play freely in their room or backyard. Time with YOU doing stuff YOU enjoy, to see if they like it too (both my boys LOVE to help me bake, and love to help their dad build things and fix things).
That's not to say that I don't put my kids in scheduled activities - I do. But, I try and limit it to 1 activity per "season". Last fall, Julien took skating lessons - 1x Week for 9 weeks. In the winter, he took cooking class - 1x Week for 8 weeks. In the spring, he did a soccer class - it was 5 weeks, introductory soccer class to see if he liked it (he loved it).
This year, I plan on putting both the boys into swimming in the fall, Julien will do the cooking class again if it is offered in the winter, and we will put him in a soccer league in the spring.
Why? because he loves the cooking class, and loved playing soccer. Swimming - he is starting to enjoy, and the lessons are more for my piece of mind than anything.
Kyle, we will do swimming together in the fall; I will probably sign him up for either play classes at the nursery school he will attend next spring, or with the city - I need to see what is offered before making the decision.
I want my kids to LOVE the activities we put them in. If they don't like it, they have to finish the program, but we will try something new the next time.
What about you? Do you have your kids in scheduled, structured activities? Are you like me, and only do them occasionally or do you like the structure of them and have the kids attend frequently?