The second thing I do to get ready for term going back is:
2. Make any final decisions necessary about extracurricular activities, book them in, and pay for them
The shape of a termtime week is not just determined by school and creche, but by the out-of-school / care activities that the kids do. I've always wanted the girls to be able to do things and try things that interest them, but this has to be balanced against the costliness of extracurriculars and the toll they take on the relaxed free-play time that I believe younger kids sorely need after school.
For the past two years I've said each child can do no more than two activities per term in addition to swimming (all three kids do swimming lessons on Saturday mornings - we all go and make it family time. My husband and I think swimming is a really important life skill). The big kids have dabbled in dancing, cricket, athletics and basketball, but for the last two years their constant has been gymnastics, which the toddler also started in 2011. My 8 year old started doing guitar lessons in term 4 last year and is loving that, while my 6 year old is taking up piano with me this year. The toddler and I also go to playgroup during school hours one morning a week.
This year, the big girls have expressed a very strong desire to try dancing again, and both are urging me to get them riding lessons / join a pony club. They also want to keep going with gymnastics!
Laying out the week in visual form - which I can do once all the extracurriculars are locked in - lets me see where there might be opportunities to expand activities, and also where flashpoints of pressure might lie. I can then show the girls - and have them really take in - what two MORE activities would do to our week, even supposing I could afford them :-)
By locking in and paying early, I also make sure that we get the timeslots that best suit our needs (for instance, getting simultaneous classes for the big girls at gymnastics, which makes my week so much more doable). The longer you wait, the less likely you will have your pick of times in most things.
So for our extra-activity dilemma, I've suggested, and the girls have agreed, that we take the opportunity to do trial dancing classes at a few different places in term 1, and if they are still really committed to doing it, they can swap out gymnastics for dancing in term 2. Actually - although I'm not telling them this yet! - we might be able to squeeze dancing in as an extra, as I've managed to structure the week in term 1 so we only have one afternoon where we're out from schooltime til dinnertime and Saturday mornings committed. Music lessons are in the evenings, after dinner, but as hubs will take the 8 year old to guitar and I'll remain with the others, and I will take the 6 year old to piano while he stays back, this is a lot less difficult logistically.
Working out the extracurriculars early and locking them in lets you see the shape of things to come much more clearly, and to plan your weeks accordingly. This is why it appeals to me!
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