I have a six year old son and a four year daughter. My wife and I have spent a lot of time planning out the activities we want them involved in.
We both feel strongly that we want our kids involved in a minimum of one activity outside of school almost all the time, and that there are a couple of activities that are not optional.
For example, knowing how to swim could save their life one day. It is not optional and both our kids have been in swimming for over a year. Also, since we are Canadians we consider skating lessons, hockey school, and hockey not optional at least for a few years. Once the kids are old enough to decide for themselves, they will continue in Hockey. Our daughter will be starting in the fall and our son is going into his 3rd year.
Most other things we consider to be optional.
Soccer is a great sport in summer that teaches team work and keeps the kids active. We are taking this year of but both kids will be in soccer next year. Karate is a good activity to teach discipline and possibly some self defense skills. Our son is going into his second year and or daughter will likely start next year.
Then we get into the more artsy kinds of activities like music, gymnastics, and dance.
There’s no question about music and both will be in one form of music or another for most of their childhoods, and hopefully most of their lives. Our daughter had asked to go into gymnastics this fall. No problem.
Both our kids are in dance as well.
I was telling this to some people the other day and their reaction made me think. Should we put our sons in dance? I asked some questions of this person why they think boys shouldn’t be put in dance. The response was over-the-top stereotypical… “Well, aren’t you worried that he will end up being gay?”
Of course I’m not worried about an activity he does “MAKING” him gay. He either already is, or he isn’t, and putting him into dance class won’t change that. But him being in dance might get him bugged and teased by his friends, or bullied, and that’s what worries me most. Not right now maybe since he’s in grade 1. But as he gets into higher grades chances are higher he’ll be subject to this. I was in dance and was occasionally teased. But that was a different time…
For the past two years he has been in tap dance. He loves the stage and loves performing, and he’s pretty good too! I’m fine with tap. But as I probed into my own feeling about it, I realized I was less fine with putting him in ballet even though I know it forms the basis of many other types of dance. It just seems too feminine.
Just to be clear, I spent many years of my childhood in highland (Scottish) dancing, and competed for years. So I am coming from a place where I danced and I don’t have a problem with him dancing. For the time being he will stay in tap and might do jazz or hip hop as he gets a little older. And when he wants to quit for any good reason, we will let him quit.
So – should boys be put into dance, or should they be directed to more traditionally male activities?