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For Parents Advice - 9 year old path

Canadian Gym Mom

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Jun 22, 2018
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My 9 year old daughter has been practicing gym since she is 2. She is now training level 6 for 15 hours a week. Recently less because of the pandemic and the gym shutting down during the evenings and weekends. She's been invited to join the sport-study group next year in grade 5. The issue: she would need to change schools and she really loves it. We could try and make an arrangement with her current school to miss 4 afternoons (the sport-study group would be doing 5 but I think that is too much of missed school if she isn't following a true sport-study program). Here are the choices:

1. Change schools. More gym hours (20), specialized program in school, no friends (yet), more commuting because the school is further away, not in same school as her brother, no school bus.
2. Stay in current school. Less hours (16), 8 hours of missed school curriculum per week, lots of friends, less commuting to school, more commuting to gym, same school as her brother and can take the school bus in the morning.

I am truly puzzled. She is gifted in school, so am not worried about her missing too much as she can do the missed curriculum at home. In high school, she will need to change schools again.

Advice anyone? What would you do? Or perhaps you have experienced something similar? Thank you!
 

momofsushi

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Oct 3, 2018
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My dd is in 5 th grade, she misses an hour of school a week to train since Third grade. missing more will be hard in term of logistics ( exams, team work, projecteur)- and she is an excellent student. ( no sport Study for Elementary Kids in our region). School is not very happy that she misses school but they tolerate. She will be Level 8 next year ( hopefully).
 
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momofsushi

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Oct 3, 2018
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And to add :we are in Canada, so no collège gym and very few gymnast have the opportunity to get a scholarship to an american University. A lot of j’infantilisai to think about when you think about schooling options.
 
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rjb123

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Aug 17, 2013
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Honestly at level six I would not be making the change for gym unless it gave your family or her a benefit of some sort- improved life balance etc. This sport is such a long grind, and at that level to make such big school changes doesn't seem worth it to me. That said, we are in the US so I can't speak to that specific type of school program in Canada.
 

ldw4mlo

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Feb 13, 2015
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I'm not a fan of high hours for gymnastics.

I am also not a fan of putting all your eggs in one basket. Some of the best parenting advice I came away with was after reading up on "Mean Girls" and relational aggression. The suggestion was made to make sure kids have more then just one circle of friends and interests. That way if something is not going well in one area of their life, it is only part of their world, not their whole world.

This advice really hit home when my daughter entered her teens and middle school. Her first year of middle school was horrible. What kept her from thinking her whole world was horrible that was she had gymnastics and her gym tribe. By the end of middle school she had settled in and found her middle school tribe. She started her last year of middle school in a great place. Which I also was grateful for because she lost a couple of her core gymmie tribe as they changed gyms. That gymnastics wasn't her only thing, she coped better with the loss.

JMO, no one, especially little kids should feel they only have one thing in their lives.
 

doublestrike

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Jun 16, 2018
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My 9 year old daughter has been practicing gym since she is 2. She is now training level 6 for 15 hours a week. Recently less because of the pandemic and the gym shutting down during the evenings and weekends. She's been invited to join the sport-study group next year in grade 5. The issue: she would need to change schools and she really loves it. We could try and make an arrangement with her current school to miss 4 afternoons (the sport-study group would be doing 5 but I think that is too much of missed school if she isn't following a true sport-study program). Here are the choices:

1. Change schools. More gym hours (20), specialized program in school, no friends (yet), more commuting because the school is further away, not in same school as her brother, no school bus.
2. Stay in current school. Less hours (16), 8 hours of missed school curriculum per week, lots of friends, less commuting to school, more commuting to gym, same school as her brother and can take the school bus in the morning.

I am truly puzzled. She is gifted in school, so am not worried about her missing too much as she can do the missed curriculum at home. In high school, she will need to change schools again.

Advice anyone? What would you do? Or perhaps you have experienced something similar? Thank you!
At age 9, I’d say don’t mess with happiness. She sounds very content, has friends and enjoys success in the gym and at school. Once she reaches level 9 and she wants to do this other option consider it then. My daughter only missed PE thru 5th grade which luckily for us was last period . In middle school she left for gym at lunch, they gave her PE credit and elective credit for gym. At this point she still had her social group at school. By high school, she had a mix of online and live classes at her high school but started to socialize less but her gym friends were her social life. At this point we knew she had a chance at college gym so it was worth it. Her sister was very active in high school, homecoming Cory, etc. The social lives were dramatically different.
 

Canadian Gym Mom

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Jun 22, 2018
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Thank you to everyone for taking the time to reply! Your advice and experiences are exactly what I needed. My daughter is so happy right now, so why mess with that? A part of me thought: if I don't let her do the sport-study program or encourage her to do it, am I taking away her chance of doing high performance gym? She has big dreams, but I do feel that it is important for me to protect her life balance.
 

LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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Thank you to everyone for taking the time to reply! Your advice and experiences are exactly what I needed. My daughter is so happy right now, so why mess with that? A part of me thought: if I don't let her do the sport-study program or encourage her to do it, am I taking away her chance of doing high performance gym? She has big dreams, but I do feel that it is important for me to protect her life balance.
Yes! This sounds very level headed. My youngest is 10. She leaves an hour early from school three days/week. It has been a good balance for her. She is at school two full days during the week, she never misses lunch or recess, and since she goes to the early practice three days/week, she is able to leave gym a little early so she isn't getting home at 10pm (we have a long commute). Socially and emotionally, I wouldn't change anything for her. She gets to spend time with both school and gym friends. With my older daughter, we did the gymnastics homeschool experience for a while, and I wouldn't do it again. I think it is too much and contributes to burn out like @FlippinLilysMom said (and overuse injuries!). I'm not sure about the differences between here and Canada as far as high performance gym. In the US, I don't think elite level gymnastics is possible without a homeschool program or very high hours, but we are not interested in having our family life revolve around that type of schedule.
 

Jenny

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Sep 17, 2012
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My daughter left school early starting in 4th grade and through 8th grade. If I could go back i would not have had her leave school early. It definitely attributed to her burn out.
I applaud this admission. It's not easy to say. It's too easy to get caught up in more and more hours because they 'need' them. We need an honest move away from huge hours and missing school.
 

Canadian Gym Mom

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Jun 22, 2018
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I applaud this admission. It's not easy to say. It's too easy to get caught up in more and more hours because they 'need' them. We need an honest move away from huge hours and missing school.
This is the reason I started this thread in the first place. I am stuck with a decision of having her change schools so she doesn't miss the curriculum, or let her stay in her current school which she loves but have her miss 4 afternoons.

In the new school, all the curriculum is in the morning and gym is in the afternoons. My daughter will be 10-11 at this point and I'm guessing will train around JO7-8 if all goes well. On the other hand, she could stay in her current school, which she loves, with all her friends and do one less day of gym. But this means she would actually miss 4 "real" afternoons of school and bring home her missed work. She will still be spending evenings at home in both cases, which I am a big fan of. She has already done 4 evenings/week of gym previously and that was a disaster. I am glad that is over!

Right now, she is actually missing 2 mornings and one afternoon of school and it's going really well, although she has just been doing this for a little over a month. I just want to encourage her in the right direction! I think she wants to stay in her current school because she is happy there, but am I really making a smart choice letting her "skip" school in the afternoons?
 

Jenny

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Sep 17, 2012
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You need to also consider that once she starts missing 4 afternoons of school then over the long term her connection to the school and her friends there will be reduced. She will not be as 'in' as the full time students, she will not have been present for lessons/ experiences/ issues that they are talking about. Her connection to her closest friends will likely remain but her connection to the rest of her class will diminish. And she will always be the odd one out. So even when she is not being 'the gymnast' training she will always be 'the gymnast who misses loads of school'. And then she will be 'the gymnast' catching up with schoolwork in the evening that she missed because she is a gymnast. That isn't a healthy place to be.

If you have an option to do a 'sport school' where she will be fully present for her curriculum schooling I would seriously consider it. Then in school she will be a student and at gym she will be a gymnast and at home she will be a family member doing normal homework. Having that emotional breathing space away from being a gymnast will help her avoid burnout and keep mentally healthy.

Have you thought about trying it for a year and if it doesn't work slot back into her old school. As a parent I worried about my child changing schools but as a teacher I see children change schools regularly and successfully from 5 to 18 years old without issue.
 

Canadian Gym Mom

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Jun 22, 2018
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You need to also consider that once she starts missing 4 afternoons of school then over the long term her connection to the school and her friends there will be reduced. She will not be as 'in' as the full time students, she will not have been present for lessons/ experiences/ issues that they are talking about. Her connection to her closest friends will likely remain but her connection to the rest of her class will diminish. And she will always be the odd one out. So even when she is not being 'the gymnast' training she will always be 'the gymnast who misses loads of school'. And then she will be 'the gymnast' catching up with schoolwork in the evening that she missed because she is a gymnast. That isn't a healthy place to be.

If you have an option to do a 'sport school' where she will be fully present for her curriculum schooling I would seriously consider it. Then in school she will be a student and at gym she will be a gymnast and at home she will be a family member doing normal homework. Having that emotional breathing space away from being a gymnast will help her avoid burnout and keep mentally healthy.

Have you thought about trying it for a year and if it doesn't work slot back into her old school. As a parent I worried about my child changing schools but as a teacher I see children change schools regularly and successfully from 5 to 18 years old without issue.
Thank you for this reply @Jenny, you've given me food for thought! Her current teacher also said something similar.

Right now, my daughter's school goes from 8am to 3pm and afternoons are less curriculum heavy. So, in the end, she might actually miss less next year than currently with two mornings and one afternoon (about 9 hours of missed school vs 8 hours next year). She rarely even takes extra work home right now because she has time to finish most of it in shcool during free time. But, 4th grade is normally easier than 5th grade (around here anyways)...