Extra murals – how to decide what to do

extra murals violin

We all want to do the best for our kids.  When it comes to their well being and development, this couldn’t be more true.  So how do we as parents navigate the issue of extra murals?  Try everything under the sun or focus on something that your child loves?  How would you know what your child loves if you don’t try everything under the sun?

This is a dilemma I face with my kids. Having the opportunity to engage in extra murals is already a luxury that a lot of parents cannot afford.  So I wanted my children to understand that they couldn’t possibly sign up for anything and everything they felt like.  We also don’t have enough time in a day to be running to various activities and I don’t have that much chit-chat in me either! (Sometimes talking to too many mums while waiting for your child can make you doubt your capabilities as a parent!)  So we came up with a solution and here it is…

Each of my 3 kids had to learn how to swim.  This was non-negotiable as swimming is a very important life skill – I would know because I’ve never learned how to swim.  They each went to swimming lessons and when they were water safe and good enough swimmers, they stopped.  My daughter is 7 and still goes for swimming lessons.  Neither of my boys showed any inclination to becoming Olympic swimmers so we ended their lessons, if they did, we may have continued.  Over and above the swimming, they each are allowed 1 other extra mural of their choice.

What else to consider:

Is it something my child is interested in?

This is most important – it shouldn’t be something that I want for them, it must be something they have a keen interest in as well.

How much time does the extra mural involve?

It shouldn’t be at the expense of homework or studies

What do you need to purchase for the extra mural?

Is it too costly or can you manage it easily.

How far away is the venue for the extra mural?

My daughter would love to take horse riding lessons but most venues are quite far from home. I’m not sure we could make it in time and back home in less than 2 hours which is a lot of time considering all the other things we need to do each day.

Is it a team sport or activity?

Some kids aren’t team players and may not do well at team sports.  On the other hand, doing that may teach them to become team players which is also a life skill.

What are the benefits of the extra mural you’re considering?

Is it solely for enjoyment or are there other advantages as well.

This did mean that we had a bit of trying out to start with.  For my eldest though, he is a big soccer fan so this choice was easy.  Not only does he love watching the game but he enjoys the training as well as matches of his own.  Training is also in the evening which means it’s convenient for me to drop him off and get his dad to pick him up.  Games are on the weekend which means that we don’t get to sleep in when he’s playing but seeing how much he loves it makes it worth it.  My other son, having being diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago, led us to trying to find activities that would stimulate him and release his energy.  Also something that would help him focus, concentrate and develop his muscle tone.  Karate was not something he enjoyed although the benefits of martial arts are great for kids with ADHD.

We then tried gymnastics with him and he likes it.  Not only does he get to jump around but as he’s gotten older, the training now includes fitness exercises that are good for him too.  (After a long holiday away, his abs were sore!)  I definitely think gymnastics helps him with muscle tone and control.  I guess musical extra murals would help him too but he’s never really shown an interest in making music of his own so we never explored those options.  My daughter has tried gymnastics and was really good at it.  She now wants to explore the world of ballet and her school offers it so we enrol her for it because it would fit into her school day.

I’d say my main considerations are cost and time.  If we do too much we all become moody and tired and it stops being fun.  I’d like them each to stick to something for long enough to master it and so that they realise that once you’ve made a choice, you need to see it through.

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This article was originally written for Jozikids by Fatima Kazee in 2018.

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Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee, mum to 3 teenagers!  Part-time wife to a fanatical fisherman. She’s addicted to sneakers, anything chocolatey & is an invaluable member of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

3 Responses

  1. Salaam Ayesha, these are all questions I asked myself too. I didn’t do any extra murals when I was young so why should they? Don’t they already have a full enough day? The difference I think is that when I was a child, we played a lot. We could ride our bikes with friends and play in the streets till nightfall.

    Unfortunately kids of today are different and times have changed. I think the safety of an environment of extra murals as well as the extra physical activity is what most parents would consider when deciding to pursue extra murals for their kids. If any of my kids didn’t want to choose anything I wouldn’t force them but them being so technologically dependent and inactive otherwise, the extra murals just help a bit to get them moving. We all lead busy lives so weekends aren’t enough even if we do things outdoors as a family.

    And if they develop a love for something that could also help keep them engaged when they’re teenagers whereas they might get involved in something we don’t want them to.

  2. Hi. I’m the mother of 2 professional adults (one a teacher and the other a medical doctor) and granny of 4; ages ranging from 11 years to 2 months.

    Growing up, neither of my children wanted to do any extra mural activities. This, i must stress, was not due to lack of any encouragement from us. They were just not inclined to anything. However, i always felt that maybe i pushed them too hard and put way too much emphasis on school and varsity so maybe my children missed out on something. Not sure what though as they both seem to be well adjusted grounded adults with a firm grip on life.

    Now, I’m directly involved in the raising of all four my grand-children because we, as a family overall, do not believe in maids raising our children. I agree that swimming lessons are almost a given so i have no problems with that. After trying a whole lot of extra mural activities, my eldest grand-daughter eventually settled on horse-riding and thankfully she’s been at it for over 3 years now. There’s a 8 year gap between the eldest and the next in line.

    So here’s my thing. How important is it for children to be involved in extra murals? I ask this because we almost insisted that my grand-daughter take on an extra mural although she was never keen or interested in anything. We did the “tried everything under the sun” to see what she enjoyed. It was never really an issue of cost, time, travel or ability. She would try something that we proposed, enjoy it for a brief spell and got bored soon thereafter. She never really showed a keen interest in anything and also never asked to do anything extra other than what was happening at school. It could be very different with the next one but I personally don’t know if i want to go through the same scenario. So, if a child is just happy with what they do at school, then why must we push them to do extra things? What value does it add to the child as a whole?

    If the child is talented or gifted in something – sport, art, music or whatever – then yes, i agree, we need to nurture and grow those talents. But surely there are some children who are just not interested in anything other than their academic life.

    Or am I on some other weird planet?

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