Activities--how Would You Do It Differently?

Updated on April 17, 2013
M.S. asks from Minneapolis, MN
20 answers

Hi, all. DH and I have been discussing what activities to have our daughter do in the coming years. We both feel swimming proficiency is important, so she will continue swimming. She loves her theatre class, so we will continue that. We have strong differences of opinion about music lessons, particularly piano. I don't intend to make her a concert pianist (although if that's where it takes her, so be it) but I want her to have a musical foundation and I'm told piano builds that.

My question is: If your child is/was in piano, was it worth it?

Also, if you could do it differently, what activities would you have your kids start at an early age, or just plain be involved in?

BTW, DD is 5. Thanks.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from Washington DC on

My kids do what they love. Don't force her to do anything, that's the worst thing you could do. My kids stay in the pool in the summer and take lessons every year (though my 9 year old is good now so she won't need them this year).

My daughter tried soccer, gymnastics, t-ball, and dance...she has been dancing for 7 years now.

My son tried t-ball, football, basketball, and baseball. Baseball is his that's what he does in the spring and fall. He does basketball in the winter, and swimming lessons in the summer.

My youngest has only ever played football, but he LOVES it, so he does that every spring and fall. He will do basketball when he gets into first grade next year and if he likes it he can continue and he does swimming lessons in the summer.

They all did Tae Kwon Do, but it was too much.

Listen to her in what she wants to do.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Baton Rouge on

Does she like piano? If she does,, continue it. If not, don't.
Other than swimming, which I insisted on because I consider it a survival skill, I let her choose her own activities based on her interests.
Over the years, she took piano lessons, voice lessons, ballet and tap lessons, played in a handbell choir and a recorder ensemble, was a Girl Scout, a Volunteen, and did community theater. All her choices.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

It makes me smile that you're planning your 5yo DD's activities years in advance.

Good luck with that, hon!

Swimming is great. When our boys were 5-9 years old, they did one full swimming class at their level each Summer. They are both very good swimmers today. The classes were for 8 weeks, twice a week.

If she loves theatre, stick with that. But if you notice her focusing toward something within that (perhaps she's an excellent dancer or public speaker, or singer) you can find a way to point her that way. For example, the Optimist Club is an excellent way to get kids involved in communication arts.

For music...piano is lovely, but she likely won't enjoy it for a while. I started my oldest in guitar at age 8. Guitar is also hard work, but he loves it...and love of the instrument can propel a child further than dislike. I recommend finding a local music store that offers lessons and asking if they'd offer a sort of "music workshop" to give your child a short introduction to different instruments. See where her interests are...and where her talents are. My ex was an accomplished guitarist, but his son just couldn't grasp it no matter what he tried. He ended up being an excellent drummer.

My boys have been involved in baseball and basketball for a long time. They aren't very good, but they love it. My oldest loves guitar, and my youngest enjoys dance and acting.

Just pay attention to her strengths and natural talents and try to lean that direction with her activities. And avoid pressuring her to do what you think she ought to do, even if every other person in your family has done it successfully.


C. Lee

ETA: OH! Also, 4-H has LOADS of activities available for her once she's a little older. From horseback riding to robotics to raising rabbits or chickens to arranging flowers to baking bread. It's a worthy organization that will keep her engaged for YEARS.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

5 is not necessarily too young for piano. It depends on the child and desire to play. My father was a musician (but passed away in December) so he started my sisters and I in music very early. I think I was 4 when I started on violin but hated it. I ended up switching to piano at 7 and continued lessons up through college. I am by no means a professional pianist but I think the most important thing I learned was that to become good at something you have to work hard. It gave me a work ethic.

As for my kids, my son begged for piano lessons at 5 so I started him with a piano teacher in our neighborhood who is excellent working with kids. I did not force my 7 year old in lessons because she did not want to take them (although in a few months after my son started she was asking for them too and is also now taking piano). My son is now 7 and is asking for a 1 hour lesson. I haven't decided yet to go there but I think he could handle it and may do it since he has talent and loves it.

At the age of 5 you may want to start with a 15 min lesson because depending on the kid they can get fidgety. Work your way up from there. The teacher we go to gives 15 min lessons for young kids. We live in Woodbury. If you are interested in getting her name just email me.



answers from Detroit on

my son is 5 my daughter is 7.. we have let them try many things.. just because you try something doesn't mean you have committed to take lessons in that area forever..

so my kids have taken dance, gymnastics, kindermusik, a fun gym class (introduction to several different sports), soccer, art and swimming.

most classes are about 8 weeks long. so we do it for a 8 week session then the class is over and we can do something else.. or keep going if it is still fun and interesting.

Like in the fall they had swim and gymnastics for 8 weeks.. at the same time my son was in a 5 week soccer session.. that was a busy time.. but soccer was soon over and then by November they had no activities.. then thanksgiving and Christmas and in January we had the sport class and art class..

try to mix it up.. have your child try different things to see what they like..


answers from San Francisco on

I never did any music lessons with my kids because none of them had an interest or aptitude as far as I could tell.
I encouraged my kids based on where their interests and skills lied.
My girls were natural tumblers so I signed them up for gymnastics.
My son didn't like team sports but he did like to be active so I signed him up for tennis.
Art, carpentry, tech/computer classes, community theater, these were all things my kids wanted to do.
The only mandatory lessons were swim lessons, because I felt that was a safety thing.
I had no interest in wasting money or time on things my kids had no desire to do.



answers from Minneapolis on

As a former lifeguard and living most of my life in the land of "10,000 lakes" I don't consider swimming lessons an "activity." To me learning to swim is a necessity and a safety issue so I personally agree with your assessment of swimming.

As for the others, I agree that she's a little young to be too concerned about planning her activities and that you should be cautious about too many things. However, my boys were very active and often had several things going on at once.

Both of my boys take piano lessons and play a band instrument. My husband and I both agree that music is very important for their overall education and their brain development. Two instruments is probably too much for many kids. It's fine for my older son and even good for him, but we are re-evaluating the situation for my younger son. Unless they learn by the Suzuki or similar method, most piano teachers like to start them about age 7. That's when my boys started. Yes, it's been worth it, but I don't force them to practice 30 minutes a day either. My older son practices on his own because he wants to master his material. My younger son may only practice 5 minutes a day, but as long as he sits down and plays every day I don't force him. I don't want to frustrate him, I want him to enjoy it and I just want him to get whatever benefit he can out of it. So yes, piano has been worth it for us. If they hated it and I had to fight with them to practice and if the piano teacher required 30 minutes a day then it might not be worth it for us. We have a very tolerant, patient and flexible teacher. There's a lot to be learned from piano lessons--work ethic, reading music and knowing both clefs, knowledge of scales, fine motor skills, and even (according to many studies) math skills. But if she doesn't like piano she will have an opportunity for music later on--choir or band.

We try to balance things with one sport or other activity per season (with some exceptions) and then music almost all year round with a break in piano lessons over the summer. As for which activities, I think it's important for them to try a variety of things and find something they like. If they don't like it it's not worth it. I am a very reluctant hockey mom, but my older son loves it. He plays club hockey as a sophomore in HS because he's not good enough to make his very competitive HS team, but he plays for the exercise, the fun and the camraderie. I would NOT have signed him up on my own, but he came home one day in kindergarten and INSISTED I sign him up for hockey. I did it thinking it would be a whim and he were are 10 years later! Bottom line, it needs to be things they enjoy. Good luck!


answers from Seattle on

Holy toledo mom!
Your daughter is only 5.
Does she get to make a choice in the things that she wants to do?
Maybe she doesn't want to be a proficient swimmer. Maybe she wants to be an amazing basketball player. Maybe she thinks music is for the birds and would rather play chess.
Maybe you should just wait until she's old enough to answer on her own the kinds of things she would like to do.
She says theater, so go with it. But, I wouldn't push anything else until she asks.
(I played musical instruments from the time I was 11 until I was 19. I loved every minute of it. But, I chose to do it, it wasn't forced on me and my parents supported me.)



answers from Miami on

I let her try a variety of different activities to see which she liked and worked well for her. She has done gymanstics, karate, Ice Skating, swimming (even on the team), ballet, acting, music theature, tap, jaz, soccer, tball, piano, violin. The only rule is she had to finish the session we signed her up for. Now that she is older she is pretty well rounded and has chosen a few she likes the best. If you want her to play something musical why dont you let her in a room of instruments and see which she is drawn to.



answers from Kansas City on

My 5 y/o is pretty active. We agree that swimming is pretty crucial and both my kids do swimming lessons all through the winter and part of the summer.

My daughter really loves gymnastics and dance. Gymnastics builds all her core strength so we really like that. She is also into ballet and I was able to find a very reasonable ballet class that is taught in a church.

I also sort of agree that I'd like to see my daughter start an instrument, but I feel like we're really busy at it is, so I'm going to wait to start on an instrument until gradeschool or she really asks for it.

I do agree that you have to let her guide you to an extent. I mean we encourage our daughter to try out new things but she always comes back to her favorites. There is nothing wrong with signing her up for something you think she needs as long as you balance it with stuff she likes.



answers from Chicago on

5 is pretty young for piano. It usually starts about 7. But yes I feel music is important. Piano teaches them to read music and is a great foundation for picking up other instruments down the road. But be prepared piano requires daily practice. Swimming is also something fun and good for her. I am not sure how I feel about a theater class at 5 lol.



answers from Washington DC on

Regarding piano: My husband is very musical (plays both piano and tuba) and he wanted our daughter to learn piano for exactly the reason you mention -- it is good for teaching sight reading and overall musicality. But our daughter did not start lessons until she started fourth grade, when the timing, the right teacher and her inclination to practice all were on target at the same time. Many good piano teachers will not take kids much younger than six or even a bit older,depending on the child. Some teachers will take your five-year-old but be careful to assess whether she's really ready to be willing to practice every day (at her age it might just be for five minutes a day but that can be an eternity if she's balky about it) and whether she is interested. She also does have to be able to sit still through a lesson and listen to an adult who's not you or your husband. She really does need to have at least some level of interest to make it work.

Regarding other activities -- do follow her interests and do let her try different things for shorter times while she is young, rather than booking her up with long class sessions. In other words: Find 8- to 10-week classes with definite end points (such as, for example, an 8-week soccer clinic or a 10-week "little ballerinas" dance class) instead of committing just yet to a class that runs the entire school year. Doing this lets her get a good, long taste of things without making her do months and months of an activity that she might or might not love. If she really gets interested in an activity she's tried short-term, then you look into longer, more in-depth classes.

Kids her age get locked into things so early now -- I see kids of five who are doing a sport plus other activities all school year long and are "required" to do summer versions in order to sign up the next's a lot to ask, plus it keeps kids from experiencing different kinds of activities and finding what they really like (as opposed to doing what mom or dad or a coach thinks they should like).

As for swimming, it is important to learn the skills, but I also know kids who just never stopped swimming and ended up in competitive swimming in elementary school when they didn't really love it to bits but it was "what I've always done" because they didn't ever try much else, and team swimming was just where they were told to go next. Swimming's great but don't let it become her main activity unless she really loves it. At five years old, it's probably not a big deal but with any activity -- don't let it default into "it's what she's always done so we need to sign up for that again." Give her tastes of many thiings while you can, before she is in upper elementary school and coaches, teachers and others expect her to lock into activities for the long term.

And when you and she are ready, be sure to do something like Girl Scouts or a similar organization, so she is in a cooperative, non-competitive, values-building group with peers -- it's a good balance to competitive sports or even activiites like dance (which my daughter does), which can be very focused on the child's skills.

My daughter is 12 and has been in ballet a very long time but it's her passion. She has had fencing lessons (loved them but not enough to keep going full-time) and we do a lot with Girl Scouts as well as extracurricular science competitions through school. That makes me think of one other thing to consider -- your child will find that school offers a lot of activities too, so be open to that when she's older.


answers from Lansing on

Both my kids do swimming too, I also agree for it to be an essential thing they learn.

My oldest daughter has tried, dance, soccer, basketball and gymnastics. Currently her favorite is gymnastics. So that is what she is mostly doing. Although she did just enjoy her basketball season, so she may do that again next year.

My youngest has done, dance, gymnastics, basketball, and soccer. So far it seems soccer is her favorite for now. So she is sticking with that for now.

As for a musical activity. Eh, its not important to me. I never took to playing an instrument and neither did my husband and I think we are both well rounded people. :) Now, whether they join something in their later years of schooling is up to them, but I don't think its something I need to push on them that's for sure.

I'm just more about my child finding an activity that they enjoy doing. For the reasons of something that motivates them to keep up good grades (a bargaining chip), something that teaches teamwork, something that promotes responsibility and something that keeps them active.



answers from Phoenix on

3 activities for a 5 year old is too much.



answers from Dallas on

My son is 14 now and takes piano and has for about 3 years now. I wish we would have started younger and he would be so much further advanced. Music is helpful for learning. It stimulates a part of the brain that helps so much. It is so worth it!!!!!


answers from Grand Forks on

Swimming is mandatory for my boys. They have been doing weekly lessons since they were toddlers. We don't do music lessons because our schools have excellent music programs, I don't need to pay extra for outside lessons. If I actually owned a piano I might want them to have piano lessons, but I don't. I have let then try different things, if they asked to do them. They have done soccer, Karate, Sikaran and basketball. All I ask is they finish the season if I pay for it. I am all for having a family YMCA membership, and letting the kids participate in the drop-in programs. That way they get to try different activities, they have fun, but we aren't obligated to go every week. They like to do the rock climbing, soccer, floor hockey, dodge ball and basketball at the Y.



answers from Chicago on

My kids get to pick out their own activities. We would like them to be musical, so hubby and I are both learning to play instruments.

My kids don't take swim lessons, but we do take them to the pool about once a week. My son is asking for lessons, but he is a young 3, and is already swimming. My plan is to wait till Fall and see if he is mature enough for the class without parent. My 5 year old use to take swim class and she hated it. But we do try to get her in the pool weekly.

The one thing we do that I don't' ask about is story time. It's just assumed we do that. The kids love it.


answers from Norfolk on

My son tried The Little Gym when he was about 4, but he didn't really enjoy it.
Kindergarten and learning to read/write were plenty enough without doing anything else at the time.
So our son was in 2nd grade (about 8 yrs old) before we got him involved in a regular activity.
He started taking taekwondo.
He's 14 now and still takes it.
In the 5th grade he began taking an instrument - recorder - which he really enjoyed.
This turned into playing the clarinet in the band in middle school - and he LOVES it - and is very good at it - he's been first chair since he began.
We find that 2 activities - taekwondo (physical - great exercise) and band (musical - mental stimulation) - are more than enough to keep him busy especially with all the homework he has in the upper grades.
I wouldn't do it any differently - it's worked out perfectly for our son.

Other kids have different energy levels and needs.
Some kids do well being constantly on the run doing everything that comes up while others are run ragged and over scheduled.
Some parents push push push - the activities are more about the parent living vicariously through their child rather than the child enjoying the activities.
You know your child best so find the best balance for them.



answers from Las Vegas on

My son did learn to learn at age 10. However, that is something I now wished we had done's one of those life skills that I think is essential and the sooner the better...

As for Piano,my son took that for awhile and liked it to a degree. Although his heart was NEVER really completely in it.. In our case, he also plays Accordion. He eventually asked to cut out piano, and now he just plays the accordion.. He's played since he was about 7 1/2 years and is VERY good.... I think music is something that helps awaken the mind in a way that other studies does not. However, it's always been our purpose to nurture whatever interests our son may have. He also enjoys cooking.. so he's been in a young person's culinary program for the last few months..

You're on the right track... keep considering your child's passion and she will automatically show you her destiny (at least to some degree) ... so often parents try and impose their will on kids... when usually, the child knows what they like and enjoy..

my best to you



answers from Oklahoma City on

I think piano for a kids is very boring. I do think that taking some fun, singing perhaps, music lessons would be much more fun. We have a children's choir in our community and it's a big deal to do it. They do lots of different styles and have a bi-yearly concert.

I think that having the lessons gives the kids a sense of the music even before they can read well. In piano they have to be reading very very well to be able to even start. They have to be able to understand total reading concepts like top to bottom, left to right, first line, second line, and differintiat between the different parts of music with both singing and playing an instrument.

I begged my parents for piano lessons. We had a piano sitting in the garage and I would go out and play stuff every day. I played clarinet and taught myself the flute too. They would not do piano lessons specifically because they paid for my brother and sister to take them and it was torment to my parents to get them to practice scales and all that is part of learning.

So I took lessons as an adult. I can say I enjoyed the other instruments much more and I enjoyed signing better than any of them.

So try and find a children's singing school or group in your community and see what they offer for smaller kids. I bet she'll have a lot more fun with that. Hubby should be on board for that.

As for other activities:

We do or have done the following and would recommend them to anyone.


Gymnastics focuses on several different areas such as Tumble Trak, uneven parallel bars, pommel horse, balance beams, etc....

Tumbling focuses on skills on the Tumble Trak, Spring Board floors, flipping, mostly using their bodies and working on flips and other skills like that.

They may want to try out for cheerleader at some point in the future and once they get up to 10 or so they should be doing a ton of different flips and skills. Classes for general gymnastics should start around 18 months and be called something like mommy and me classes. As they get older they can still start these activities, they learn a lot by going at least an hour per week.

My granddaughter is 10 and has been in basic gymnastics since she was 3 and started tumbling at 7 is flipping like the big kids. She can do nearly everything the high school kids can do. The kids that are just starting basic tumbling around 7 or 8 are learning the same skills and pick it up just as well but those who had a background in general gymnastics do better in my opinion.

Every part of the body is used when doing gymnastics and it gives children an opportunity to learn about social skills like listening, following directions, taking turns, being quiet, and respecting others. Children also have fun, meet new friends, and learn independence.

Gymnastics helps children build a range of motor and coordination skills, and assists in developing a good sense of body awareness. A young gymnast will learn how to use different parts of her body in difference ways.

Opportunities to gain muscle strength through tumbling, jumping, static flexing, and holding one's own body weight in various positions help children develop strong and powerful bodies. This strength aids in the development of lean, toned muscles, improved balance, and even improvements in posture.


Bicycle Moto Cross is an awesome sport! The kids get to ride their bicycles around a track that has hills, berms, rhythm sections, even eventually going over the jump sections. They are racing against themselves because they do as well as they want to. If they want to do better they work harder to go faster and do it better.

They'll need an appropriate bike. One that is lightweight and has no reflectors, kick stands, protruding parts like you see on some trick bikes, etc...the bike is bare bones, no extra's at all. You don't want the kiddo to take a spill and split open a lip on something. They'll need a helmet and some parents have their kiddo's wear a chest shield. Not many wear these though.

Girls race girls and boys race boys USUALLY! If there are not enough they do put them against each other but in bigger races they do by gender. My granddaughter was 3rd in her age group in the nation for a whole month...she broke her arm and was out the rest of the summer.

BMX is very fun and the whole family can race. I know some of our older guys are senior citizens. They've been racing for years. So it is for everyone as soon as they can ride without training wheels.

A person pays a yearly due to the American Bicycle Association. They get a card that they can show at any registered track. With that membership card they are allowed to race on that track. If they want to try for a trophy it's usually $10 to race, if they want to try for a ribbon it's usually $8, for a stamp or something else it can be less.

The racers can compete in Regional and even on National levels, BMX is now an Olympic sport.

It can be an expensive sport but it's so worth it to do it for even a year. The trophy's are totally wonderful. My granddaughter took a few of her trophy's for show and tell a couple of times and had her whole kindergarten and 1st grade classes awing her for being a racer. It was pretty cool.

Dance, same as gymnastics for fitness stuff. If she likes theatre then she can't go wrong by taking some basic dance classes like tap/ballet/jazz etc...


Sports that require a ball:

These can be very fun instead of work. They help kids form friendships and long lasting relationships with so many other kids. I played softball for my church starting when I joined the youth group. I played into college. I was pretty good at it.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions