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Tennis Anyone?

June 22, 2008

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We found a great tennis teacher at this Campsite in Olhao  (at only five euros for an hour), so we decided it was a good opportunity for Mozart to take her first tennis lesson. I always have a little conflict on how to handle sports with Mozart who is very naturally athletic. We do not like to fill her time up too full when we are in Spain, so feel that violin, piano and flamenco classes are enough extra curricula activities. Thus  even though she is a very sporty kid and there are lots of opportunities in the winter in Spain, she does not do any classes, since I think free time is a very important thing to add in, especially with a school schedule.

Yet, I also think sports are very important, even more so for girls who tend to get less exposure than boys. One of my favorite books is Sports Her Way, which I bought when she was a baby and it gives lots of good ways to support a female child in this way and the many benefits. Homeschooling allows  much more time for extra curricula activities, but much of our homeschooling time is taking up with touring the world. I don't like how kids are so over scheduled today, yet I also hate not supporting a child's gifts and Mozart clearly has athletic talents.

I am sure, other parents wrestle with this quandary, ours just has its own peculiarities due to our travel. Perhaps it will get easier when she is not in school in the winter as joining sports teams will also be a way to connect with kids and homeschooling allows for so much more free time than regular school does.  Mozart is also not driven to be on any sports teams yet, so that impacts, along with how much she loves her play dates, time for reading, creative projects and sleep overs. Both the violin and piano take daily practice, so we must always take that into consideration on her and our time.

She did take gymnastics for several years and her teacher remarked on how naturally talented she was, but it was not a sport I wanted to pursue because  I personally could not handle watching it due to the danger level as the kids get older. I saw where it was leading and was not interested in going down that road, although I think it was great for her as a toddler and kinder. I know families that love it, but it was just not for us.

Her father is very athletic, was a standout in several sports in his school career ( only freshman with a letter in high school and lots of metals, trophies and newspaper clippings his mother had saved which Mozart adores) and was a world class swimmer. Yet, having had a childhood dominated by sports, especially through his swimming, he has mixed feelings about it for our child as well. He was "discovered" as a young child because he had a natural butterfly kick and he really enjoyed many of the benefits of extensive years of  training in a sport, but also got to experience the downsides. To this day, he still will not get into cold water to swim as he spent too much time in cold water training as a kid in the winter.

So we have no answers to this yet and just muddle our way through it as most parents do. Like most things in life, we try to find a balance. She is young yet, so we continue to expose her to things and follow her interests. She loves swimming and biking which she  gets to do a lot of, not to mention endless walking and hiking. She also gets a great amount of one-on-one training with her dad in various sports as we roam and we will continue that, especially with tennis and soccer ( football in Europe). Most campgrounds have tennis courts, so we decided to invest in some good rackets, primarily for lessons mainly from dad, but picking up private or group lessons as we go, some too. 

This teacher, Paulo, was terrific  and knew how to make it a lot of fun. There were two twins from Russia in the class too who Mozart also enjoyed. So Mozart is off to a good start and we will see how it goes. Remember the photos can be seen larger if you just click on them.

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