Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tough decisions about after school classes 才藝班

In Taiwan, where we live, it's very popular to send kids to different 'after school' (or in our case 'after homeschool') classes. Kids start going to so called 才藝班 creative arts - talent - interest classes at a very early age, you can even find classes for 2-3 year-olds.

Parents can choose from all kinds of classes and activities:
- music - piano, violin, drums, singing ...
- sports - roller-blading, baseball, soccer, ice-skating, gymnastics ...
- dance - ballet, modern dance, ballroom dance, hip-hop ...
- math - abacus, mental arithmetic ...
- languages - English, Japanese, French ...
- games - Chinese chess, Lego, Go ...
- arts - Chinese painting, ceramics ... 

The list can go on and on - whatever you want your child to learn, they got a class for it (at least in Taiwan)!


How do you decide?
How do you know which classes to sign your child for? 
How do you know what your child is interested in or what he is or will be good at?

In the next few posts I will share with you how we've been dealing with this issue in our family.

My husband and I have always believed that beside all the academic lessons the children should enjoy sports and arts (music and art), that's why from an early age, both Zosia and Jas, started going to classes that combined movement and music. Later on they also started being more serious about sports - ice-skating, skiing, dance, soccer, basketball. 

Some classes kids took only for a few months, others they continued for many years. 

How do we decide which classes to continue and which to drop?

Every semester we would sit with kids and discuss with them how they like the classes they are currently taking, if they wanted to start learning something new, they would need to drop one of the old classes first. 
Children would write down the names of all the classes and rate them from 1 to 10 (1- liking the least, 10 - liking the most). We would add to the list classes that they wanted to start taking. Then we would discuss their progress (or lack of it), how they like what they were learning, the distance needed to travel to the class, the price and so on. This way we had a clear idea of what the kids thought of the classes they were taking. We never pushed them to stay in a class if they didn't enjoy it. 
In the following posts you will be able to read how we dealt with Zosia's dance and ice-skating classes and Jas' ballet.
We've always tried to keep the number of classes a week below 4 for each child. For as long as possible we tried not to arrange any classes over the weekends. We wanted to have weekends open for family time and for getting together with friends.


Why wouldn't we let the kids take all the classes they wanted?

For two reasons:
money and time

all the classes cost money and there are only 7 days in a week :-) .

This system has worked for our children for many years. 
Please share with me how you deal with the after school classes and how do you decide which classes children should continue taking and which they should drop.

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