Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Paying for Extracurriculars

I like to meander through the comments after interesting blog posts, and I found one that's worth putting here (albeit edited for grammatical errors) and then discussing.

"I'd also like to hear about how people make financial decisions regarding kid's extracurriculars.

We have three children and each takes music lessons, participates in a sport and gets tutored in math -- and goes to summer camp. And I do feel like most of the time I'm acting out of fear (so very scared that somehow my kids are going to be left behind by all the kids who started with math tutoring when they were three and could do long division before they entered kindergarten, etc. etc. etc.)

Lately, my husband I have had some long, hard talks about this whole philosophy -- that extra lessons and tutoring and so forth will somehow provide "insurance" against your kids ending up uneducated, unemployed, etc. I guess the question is -- does it? And even if it does, is it worth it?

As I said to my husband the other night, "I could easily spend ALL of our money making our kids faster, smarter, and so forth, but when's enough enough?" (Here's an example: I didn't even know you COULD take private swimming lessons -- until I realized that my kids were the only ones on the swim team who hadn't had them.)"

She raises a few great points. My opinion is that if tutoring and mentoring is affordable, then by all means it should be a supplement to any child's education. However, tutoring and mentoring should never replace traditional instruction and a parent should never go overboard with scheduled tutoring sessions. I'd recommend no more than 2 to 3 hours per week for elementary and middle schoolers; no more than 5 or 6 hours a week for high schoolers (this includes time on weekends for SAT and other prep).

Most everyone needs free time, including even older kids, to avoid burning out or becoming apathetic towards their schoolwork. The same could be said for college aged students, though I've observed this age group is better at taking breaks. Perhaps this is a result of a newfound independence from parental scheduling.

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