Who Needs School? Bring on the Activities!

14 Nov

Am I the only one who mourns the end of summer? I love that my kids get to go to day camp and learn fun things, like sports and swimming, and just hang out and enjoy themselves. I’m more relaxed in the summer, even though only my eldest is in “real” school so far. But it just seems that during the school year there is much more of a schedule that needs to be maintained at all costs.

As I’ve mentioned before, school here finishes super early. There is a lot of time between the end of school and dinner. Last year, my three younger kids all napped during this time, and even D#1, who needs an inordinate amount of sleep, could be convinced to lie down a couple of times a week. Then we went to Montreal for the summer. The land of “real” days, in terms of camp and school, where my kids were in camp from 9am to 3 or 4pm. Gone were the naps! Which I was happy about. They were all ready (except the baby, who didn’t go to camp and still got her naps) and I was waiting until we got to summer where they would be occupied.

So now we are back in school mode and everybody is done by 2pm. This year we decided to join the local “Country Club.” Basically, it is the only show in town if you want to swim in the winter. You can only take swimming lessons if you are a member. Last year we were appalled and didn’t do it. This year we got over it and just joined. The benefit is that it is a big facility, with an indoor and outdoor pool, a park, and lots of after-school activities (“chugim”). And the major benefit is that once you join, all activities are included, no matter how many you do. So we got the pricing and figured out that if each kid does two it is more than worth the cost. Trust me, with no naps, each kid was going to do at least two activites a week.

We took the girls for the swimming test, to find out where to register them. D#2 was placed in the lowest level, whcih I had expected; perfect. I expected, or was actually hoping, for D#1 to be placed in the level one above her. Instead, they put her two levels above the one I hoped her to be in, called Dag Zahav (Goldfish); the youngest of the competitive groups, which has three practices per week, two for an hour of swimming and forty-five minutes of land training, and one just the hour of swimming. We were extremely proud, but conflicted.

D#1 was excited to try all sorts of activities, and we had told her she could try anything for two weeks and then we would re-assess and decided how many she could keep. Even thought she did swim team five days a week this summer and loved it, three times a week during school for a not quite seven year old seemed like too much to us. So we decided to put her down one level which had multiple times, some once and some twice per week. BUT, for twice a week, we have to pay more. We had explained already that D#1 could do many activities, but sometimes skip to play with a friend, since all activities are included in our basic price. So we gave her the choice of swimming once or twice a week, with the caveat that if she chose to swim twice a week, she couldn’t skip since we had to pay extra. She was still excited from summer swim team and chose to swim twice a week. So far, it’s going great..

The girls start their activites with dance on Sundays. D#1 has beginner ballet and D#2 has intro to dance. Both love their classes, their leotards, their ballet shoes…Many a morning we have come down to find the girls dressed in their leotards (NOT their school clothes), making up dances. I consider that a success.

Both girls are also doing English, which kind of reminds me of my Hebrew School experience as a child (which I swore up and down I would never put my children through…). D#1 goes twice a week and D#2 once a week, each time for an hour. We’ve explained this is not an activity, but an extension of school, with homework, spelling tests, etc. I’m looking forward to getting rid of this when we move.

Starting with grade 1 there are a million activities for the kids to do! So D#1 also gets to do Zumba-tomic, which I think is like a high energy jazz class, and which she totally loves, and ceramics. We were glad that she chose one activity that was creative but not athletic. I’m all for her being active, but it’s also nice to try other things.

For D#2 the selection was less, so she has dance, swimming and an intro to sports class which she is enjoying. The Boy had slim pickings, so he has only one activity, a Gymboree class, which is really more of a music and movement class, with parental involvement. Until last night, it was Daddy-Boy time, but last night I highjacked it and took him. It was fun and he really gets into it and has a good time.


With all of these activities going on, I do worry a bit about how life will change when we are back in Montreal. The school days in the two places are polar opposites. Here we complain that school is really a half-day, with D#1 finishing between 1 and 1:45 each day. There, school goes until 4:15, making afterschool activites difficult (especially with the super-early bed-times that we love!).

Being the total geek that I am, let me share with you the activities that I’ve found for my kids to do in Montreal next year:

D#1 & 2: Swimming, Tues & Thurs 5-6:30. When will they do homework, eat dinner and go to bed? We’ll worry about that later!

Dance and gymnastics are also offered at the school they will attend, as an after-school activity. I think they will be allowed to choose one ( as long as they choose the same one!). Hopefully it will be a day that swimming is not!

The Boy: My plan is to keep him out of daycare once a week, bring him to Gym & Swim at my favorite pool in the world, Pointe Claire, while Bubbie looks after The Baby (unless she’s in daycare), and then eat lunch with Bubbie and Zaidie and then go the next activity, later that afternoon, Intro to Skating, back in our neck of the woods, which will finish right in time to pick up the girls from school.

Of course, there will be skiing some Sundays during the winter, and some swim meets too.

Can we just get rid of school and have fun all year ’round? Maybe I should homeschool…

or not.


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