The options today for extracurricular activities can be overwhelming. Both for the child and well-meaning parents. So, what IS the best option for your child? There are 3 options that tend to be the most popular extra-curricular activities. But, what are the differences between music lessons, sports and dance?
Not every child will excel in any given activity. And, that’s okay. Just like you and I had different interests as we grew up, so will our children.
How are we the same?
While there are differences between music lessons, sports and dance, it does not mean there are no similarities. There are some clear benefits to each.
- Become more aware of how our bodies work.
- Express ourselves without words. (More for dance & music).
- Lessons (including sports practices) include new concepts & review as part of the lesson.
- Learn grit & perseverance when mastering something challenging.
- Parents cheer their children on & celebrate their successes!
How are we different?
But, there are several important differences between music lessons, sports and dance.
- Unless students are in a group class, instrument lessons tend to be one-on-one. This does help students develop a closer relationship with their teacher over time.
- Some studios, like ours, include group lessons throughout the year so students get to socialize with each other & get the best of both approaches.
- Instrument lessons ideally include the teacher demonstrating AND having the student show how they will practice on their own during the week.
- Sports & dance would be more likely to include more specialist classes the student attends during the week.
- Practice happens in between lessons, rather than multiple sessions a week with the teacher.
- For young students, this requires an adult to set up a regular practice routine & guide them each practice session. For elementary, junior high & older students, parents become more a cheerleader and remind students of their commitments.
- Piano lessons are not seasonal. Lessons are either given for a full academic year or continuing through the summer, depending on the teacher. Organized sports typically are seasonal.
- More flexibility is possible during individualized piano lessons. The teacher can focus on a particular genre or activity that your child loves.
Music lessons, sports or dance … oh my!
Regardless of which option (or options) you and your child choose, there are benefits to extra-curricular activities. And, the best option will not be the same for each child or family.
Talking to the teacher beforehand will let you know:
- The expectations on your child
- The expectations on you: for example, driving your child to & from lessons, setting up for online lessons, purchasing or printing materials, etc.
- The cost both upfront and ongoing
- What happens in between lessons (linked to expectations)
- What lessons look like
NOTE: While I write “lesson” and “teacher”, these can easily be switched out for “practice”, game” or “coach” depending on the activity.
What is your why?
As a parent myself, I understand wanting to provide your child with the best possible opportunities. But even I have had to back off with my own children when it was clear they had no interest in a new extra-curricular activity I thought they would benefit from learning. Or, when it was about me wanting to share the experience with my child.
If your child has no interest in learning a particular instrument, sport or type of dance, look at why it is so important your child be enrolled in that particular activity.
Must Love Music was named very carefully. While students will have an ebb and flow in their learning, they are in this studio because they love music. After all, the students are the ones doing the practice, putting in the effort and stretching their brains as they learn new concepts.
I have lost count of the number of times my children have been reminded to brush their teeth, pack a water bottle for school, put their best effort into homework, and so much more. Of course, playing with friends, reading a book or playing video games is more interesting! That does not mean basic tasks do not need to be completed. As a parent, it is my responsibility to push them in those areas so they will one day be able to take care of themselves.
We have enough ‘battles to fight’ on a daily basis without adding an activity our child clearly has had no interest in even starting to the mix.
And remember, there is no reason YOU are unable to take those lessons yourself! Perhaps your child will be inspired by your commitment. (Much like my own children will tell their friends and others about how I practice piano.)
Which is the best option?
The differences between music lessons, sports and dance are there. But, this is what makes them unique!
My husband and I have learnt the hard way our children typically do better with one-on-one instruction. Swim classes in a group were a flop. With a teacher just for them, they thrived. They want and need one-on-one attention.
Whatever activities you choose, keep your child involved in those discussions. Having a say in what happens with their ‘free time’ outside of school makes a world of difference.
As part of your discussion, make sure you & your child know the responsibilities you each will have. If you are not able or willing to be involved each week, an activity may need to go to the side for now.
And, if those discussions lead to piano lessons … let’s make sure everyone is happy before a commitment is made. Click below to access the “Parent Readiness” PDF.