When E began attending aftercare there last year, she was initially miserable. This was after our difficult nanny experiences in kindergarten and an abrupt termination of the first aftercare plan we had in place for first grade. It's no surprise that she was unhappy, but she's also a girl who likes a lot of direction. General aftercare felt too wild for her and unstructured but we learned that she could take classes through the center's child education curriculum, and as soon as she began ballet and art she was much happier. Now she loves aftercare.
We imperfectly applied those lessons to L's endeavor into aftercare. We never really even considered not sending her to classes at aftercare; her sister was only happy in classes. But L can go with the flow. She was excited to try a bunch of things, though, that were all there, and so we signed her up for karate on Mondays, tap dance on Tuesdays, and gymnastics on Wednesdays.
When classes end and before parents arrive, kids are directed toward two general categories of activities: arts or sports. E goes to the beading and coloring every single day. L goes outside to the pick-up games of soccer and gaga and handball. And then L learned that for kids who don't take classes, an option exists to play soccer or gaga all afternoon. Suddenly classes didn't sound as wonderful to her.
Her next opportunity to mix up her schedule will come in January. Some days she just wants to run around, and tells us she wants to drop all her classes. Some days she tells us she wants to drop tap and gymnastics but pick up an additional day of karate. We're fine with any permutation of her options as long as she's happy. Age five (almost six!) is no time to feel pressured to narrow one's exposure. I feel a little badly that we never offered her a no-class option at the beginning of the school year, as she's so happy in the informal sports crew.
Anyway, it seems that karate holds the highest likelihood of maintaining position in her starry sky. And yesterday was her first belt test. She's a gold belt now:
[breaking her board]
[chillin' with the evidence of her strength and focus]
[receiving her new belt and bow and congratulatory high-five]
She's figuring out what suits her, and we're learning and re-learning how to consider her differently from how we've traditionally considered her sister. I kinda hope she keeps up with the karate, mainly because it's so badass, but even if she doesn't, there are two lessons to learn from this aftercare scheduling adventure:
:: watch out for those power arms
:: this girl is fabulous. She just rocks.