This has been a big year of commitments for my husband and me. In 2019, we got married, bought a house, and moved from Chicago to Oklahoma to take a job that locks us in for a long-term commitment. At one point of my life, all of these things would scare me, but part of maturing is getting comfortable with commitment and learning how to make and maintain these commitments.
We ask a lot of the students in our secondary program. We offer more than twenty extra-curricular clubs, teams, and opportunities. Because our kids are talented in a lot of areas, they often sign up for multiple clubs or teams. We see a majority of our secondary students participating in more than four extra-curricular activities throughout the school, with several participating in closer to ten activities. That is a huge time commitment, and it causes a lot of scheduling conflicts. On the teaching/administrative side of these activities, there are fees, rules/regulations, and expectations to uphold. Because of these matters and because we are teaching our students to be strong leaders, we require our students to honor their commitments.
At the beginning of each year, students fill out activity forms with the clubs and teams in which they are interested. These forms go home to parents to review, and a signed copy comes back to us. At that point, the student has committed to participate in that activity and any associated competitions or practices. From that point on, students are expected to honor these commitments. That means when a student skips archery to participate in other activities or work on homework, there are repercussions for these actions. This might seem harsh, but we are training leaders, and we believe that it is important for these students to prioritize their previous commitments.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. If a student is out of town because the parent is bringing them on a work trip, the missed clubs will not result in reprimanding. Similarly, illness, injury, family emergencies, etc. are all viable excuses for missing activities. Beyond that, we look at situations on a case-by-case basis. But largely, our students are expected to show up and give it 100%.
Teaching children the importance of honoring their commitments during their adolescence will translate to important skills in their adult lives. Beyond the benefits of committing in the workplace, there are a lot of personal commitments your child will face in his or her future. The lessons we are instilling now can help your child stay committed to relationships, jobs, and their personal and professional goals. Think about these important lessons next time your child is too tired to go to wrestling practice or doesn’t feel like attending that weekend speech tournament. The decisions you are making now have long term effects. Make sure you are empowering your child to maintain his commitments.