My daughter is four-years-old and I often try to ‘map out’ what social activities would be good for her to be involved in so that she may excel in school and in life. I’ve always watched those who were involved in extra-curricular activities do so well academically, socially and eventually…financially; so I knew the day I gave birth my child would no doubt stand among those ranks.
When she was three-years-old, I signed her up for ballet and tap classes at a local dance studio. I watched her blossom from a somewhat reserved child to a very confident little girl. I was impressed and realized that I had done the right thing. Not to mention, it so utterly adorable to watch your child dance on a big stage, with the most beautiful tutu on display as she does a dance that has the audience in stitches.
However, what I noticed even more was her lack of concentration… more so than any of the other girls in her dance class. So, I did some serious thinking and decided to sign her up for karate. There was an immediate difference! In addition to learning self-defense, she is also learning how to deal with stranger danger along with focus and concentration. She is also the only girl in her class and has no qualms, whatsoever, in regard to that. The little boys used to give her a small portion of trouble over it, but she stood tall, and excelled while gaining their respect. Six months later she is now an orange belt and her focus and concentration are up to par. Let alone the self-discipline and respect for others. It’s been, quite frankly, the best decision I’ve made when it comes to raising her.
I have also involved her in swimming classes at the local YMCA. Albeit, after a few months, we are taking a small break due to the weather. She already has allergies and I don’t want to add to her displeasure by bringing her into freezing cold weather from a heated pool – it can wait until spring. I only decided to sign her up for those as she spends a lot of time at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri with my mom and step-dad during the summers; a preventative measure if you will. She swims like a fish. In fact, her lack-of-fear when it comes to water concerns me. Regardless, at least this way, she’ll know how to float and hopefully save herself from sticky situations should an emergency occur – better to be safe than sorry as they say.
The difference the last year and a half has made is nothing short of incredible. Her teacher recently told me, during a conference, that Alexis is much like an old soul, but with her childhood firmly intact. Yet, the best part of it is her compassion as she also brought up how she enjoys playing “mom”. Then I proceeded to explain the 27 baby dolls in Alexis’ room that probably had a lot to do with that. You see, I even planned that out: I wanted her to be nurturing; to care. So I bought her every possible baby doll, item, accessory, and then some that you could possibly imagine. I sparked her imagination and the rest has fallen into place.
We live in a small town, and she is often referred to as, “everybody’s friend”. As much as I take a lot of pride in that title, it does concern me a little bit. Then I remember yet another reason I have her in karate and reinforce the lessons learned when it comes to stranger danger. Followed up with a small reassurance as to why it’s important to care about others and their feelings. It draws so many people to her and that makes her heart smile so bright that I’m convinced her soul is beaming and visible to the world.
Social interaction is absolutely beneficial in raising an independent, confident and self-disciplined child. I cannot wait to see the final result and who she becomes. With what I’ve seen thus far… that little light of mine is going to shine.