You are so happy when your child shows enthusiasm for enrichment lessons, such as music, athletics, art, dance or drama. There’s more to life than school, and it’s good for him to develop outside interests. Your kid gets so much out of taking part in these activities – for instance, he extends his interests, feels refreshed, makes new friends and acquires new achievements.
Yet your elation quickly evaporates when his interest fades after three classes, the day following your payment for a block of 10. Or worse: Just when you’ve bought him that new piano, he announced he now prefers to learn how to play the violin!
WHY QUIT NOW?
Before letting him give up on a class, ask him to explain why he has changed his mind. Listen to what he has to say, without interrupting. Maybe you’ll find that there’s something you can do to rekindle his interest. For instance, perhaps he doesn’t like one of the other children there, or maybe he would prefer to attend on a different night.
Whatever his explanation – and whether you can improve his experience there – do what you can to persuade your six-year-old to continue for at least one or two more classes.
Explain to him that if he makes that commitment and then still wants to give up, you’ll allow him to do so. Insist that he makes this compromise. Of course, chances are he will stop after these two more sessions anyway, and it will still hurt to know that you have wasted good money on lessons that he won’t use. But at least you can use this particular experience to strengthen his persistence.
Related story: Cool enrichment classes for preschoolers
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
Now that you have learnt the painful lesson of not parting with your money for enrichment classes too quickly, you’ll take a more measured approach the next time. When you or your child hit on an idea for another class, check it out thoroughly before launching wholeheartedly into it. Take him there so that he can meet the adults and other children involved.
With luck, he should be able to attend a trial class just to check it out, before you make a term’s commitment. If he’s still enthusiastic after that, discuss payment options with the organisers. Perhaps you can pay monthly or for a block of, say, four lessons at a time.
Alongside this, ask your child to tell you why he wants to attend this particular class, and not a different activity. That helps him understand himself better and gives you a clearer view of his hopes and aspirations.
If you think he’s enthusiastic enough, reach an agreement with him before you sign up. Emphasise that these classes are expensive and that you don’t have money to waste.
Make it clear that once you pay for a block of lessons, or buy him a musical instrument (though it’s always better to rent than to buy, especially in the first couple of terms), he’s committed to going to each class until the last one is over. Point out that he can only leave the class at the end of a term, not during it.
True, your kid can agree to all of that with the best of intentions and yet change his mind the minute he gets fed up. But you have a solid basis for negotiations in that event.
Remember that you can boost your child’s motivation for enrichment classes, and improve his persistence, by taking an active interest in his progress there, and by allowing him to demonstrate his newly learnt skills when he feels confident enough to do so.