To homeschool or not to homeschool

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al08506

My daughter started gymnastics at the age of 2 (energy outlet and safe environment for all the jumping she seems to love). She is now 6 and finishing up her first season competiting level 4. She is a powerful and poised little girl and we are extremely proud of her.

For several months, her coaches have been hinting at our daughter joining the 'day program'. This would mean more hours in the gym and homeschooling (our school district is rather inflexible). After her last meet, her coaches were more direct and explained that she has plateaued, given her current amount of hours in the gym (12 hr/wk). The 'hinting' has stopped and become an all out request that she participate in the day program (25-30 hrs/wk). At a minimum, they have asked that she increase her hours (18 hrs/wk).

We are considering both options, as we know she enjoys the sport tremendously. My husband and I already figured out that more gym time = more conditioning and sharper skills. We'd also like for her to be competitive for TOPS testing, as she is finally eligible to test next summer. Is it crazy for a 6 year old to train 25 hours a week? In this scenario, homeschooling will give her more flexibility to "be a kid" outside of the gym.

Academics are extremely important in our family, regardless of their extracurricular activities. Our children understand colleges degrees are expected. Are we hurting her opportunities with homeschooling?

Sorry for the long post, but this is a very tough decision for our family and we are trying to gauge various opinions.
 
M

Mack_the_Ripper

I'm guessing that even 12 hrs/week may be too much for a 6-year-old. I'm no authority, but I've heard that starting young with high hours is a high factor for burnout and quitting. Maybe her plateau is due to exhaustion. If school is a priority for your family, then school must remain the priority - stand up for your beliefs. Also, if your daughter increases her hours to such a ridiculous number like 25, there is a higher likelihood that she will come to resent and dislike gymnastics if it is the only thing in her life. Not to mention what will be lost if your daughter quits or burns out or turns out not to have higher potential - years and years of school and a well-rounded childhood, lost.
 

ginnymac

Parent/Coach
Coach
Proud Parent
Jun 26, 2008
386
This is a very serious consideration. Don't know what area of the country you are in but this seems more common in some areas, not so much in others.

Just an FYI, there are girls who qualify for TOPS with way less than 25 hrs/wk training.

I think at her age, homeschooling should be something that you believe in yourself, not something that you are choosing for a sport. As a coach and a parent, I think that 25 hrs is a lot for someone as young as your daughter. Keep in mind the injury rates that increase as time in the gym increases as well as the the mental and physical demands required. That is a lot to expect from one so young.

Ultimately, you know your daughter best and how this will work for your family. Just know that this is truly not a requirement to succeed in gymnastics. It may be at this gym, but it may be time to just look around and see what other gym programs are available to you.
 

bogwoppit

Gold Membership
Feb 26, 2007
16,879
Let me me be the first to welcome you to the Chalkbucket, we have many parents and coaches here who will be able to share their insight on this issue.

Regardless of your school choice how many hours a week do you think is enough for your gymmie? I have a hard time imagining that a 6 year old L4 has plateaud on 12 hours a week training. Perhaps the coaches feel the need for more girls to feed into their day programme as it does provide employoment. Maybe I am just being a little cynical but I know there are many gymnasts who excel in their respective gyms in L5 & L6 doing 12 hours a week or less training.

To homeschool is a huge decision and for a family with goals of college degrees it cannot be taken lightly. There are a number of homeschoolers on the board, but most of them homeschool for reasons other than gym. I hope all our ho,eschool parents put in their thoughts for you. I know many homeschoolers do very well academically but that is more about how much effort you are prepared to put in, and finding the right kind of programme that will be accepted by colleges in the US. Homeschooling is also not cheap and that also has to factor in to the budget, allowing for the increase in gym tuition.

My last thought is that burn out can be an issue for little ones doing many hours, training styles can help, (soft tumbling etc on tumble track versus floor) but overuse injuries can and will happen. Of all the gymnasts who begin in L4, less than 50% make it to L6, this is because ssome girls cannot get the skills, become too injured to continue, but many of them quit because gym is just too much for them to handle. Assuming the goal is to reach L10 around the age od 14/15, for college purpose, then a 6 year old L4 only needs to advance on level per year to get there.

Considering Shawn Johnson only trained 25 hours aweek in the year leading up to the Olympics, it is so hard for me to imagine that a 6 year old needs it.

Best of luck coming to terms with a choice for your talented little one. Try not to feel too pressurised by your gym, the choice is yours and the long terms benefits/negatives are yours too.
 
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Mar 5, 2008
2,233
North America
Welcome to the Chalkbucket!!! I agree that 12 hours IMHO is quite a lot of hours for a 6 year-old. That is just crazy insane to me. Homeschooling is a big decision and I also agree that it should be considered very carefully for educational reasons NOT for athletics, especially for a 6 year old. I would be very careful of burnout, especially when you are putting a 6 year old in the gym 25 hours and not giving her the social outlet and interaction of kids her own age in a regular school. Kids NEED balance and they NEED a wide variety of activities to engage in so that they develop their interests and personalitities. Sorry if I am sounding like Debbie Downer, but I have heard too many stories of young kids ages 5 and 6 being rushed into the "fast track" of gymnastics where they only burn out and quit the sport before they are age 12. It is a very sad statistic that 75% of all kids in organized sports QUIT by the age of 12 because IT IS NO LONGER FUN ANYMORE. I would seriously consider this increase in hours at the gym and think about how this may impact her in the future. Good luck and I know this can be a nerve-racking sport!!!!!!!!!
 
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CoachTodd

Coach
Proud Parent
Nov 4, 2009
810
North Carolina
From what I've observed in my home state, the gyms that have kids working large hours at a young age seem to put out quite a few 8,9 and 10 year old level 8's. Almost everyone of them was wearing some type of brace (i.e. ankle, elbow, knee).
The main thing to keep in consideration is that gymnastics is a sport that punishes the body's joints. I really don't like the idea of training 20+ hours per week. My optional level girls don't even train that much and I believe the NCAA limits college gymnasts to 20 including conditioning.
The home schooling part of this issue should actually take into consideration what other education options you have in your area. I've seen more and more home schooled kids in my area due to the fact that the public school system is terrible. I think about 1/3 of my gymnasts are either home schooled or go to a private school. Has nothing to do with the work out hours it's just a statistic.
I'd keep a close eye on any gym that wants a 6 year old working out too many hours. Are they really trying to help her become better or program her to work out their way no matter what ? or any other ulterior motive you can think of.
 

gymdog

Coach
Jul 5, 2007
5,120
I don't really understand what they could mean by a 6 year old L4 "plateauing" at 12 hours a week. It's a lot for a 6 year old, maybe not too many right now. I wouldn't want to up it to 30 - that's too much in my opinion, and too fast. Was just at a session about injuries including severs/osgoods (growing injuries) and the presenter saying one risk is to up training too fast or not graduate surfaces (i.e. for tumbling). I gather these things can affect the growth plates, and I seem to recall there's some extra consideration with affecting growth plates up through about age 7. I wouldn't want to do it. She has plenty of time.

If the only way they'll show interest in her and her progress is to do this many hours, personally I'd start considering other programs. Only you can decide what she can handle, but something just doesn't seem all that accurate about what you're being told. Even a 12 year old level 8, well trained, could easily be on track for a college scholarship - I've even known girls who have gone elite after hitting optionals at that age and moving through the optional skills quickly. You don't need to be the minimum age for that level to be very successful.
 
Jan 31, 2009
410
I just erased a really long post that comes down to this - I think it would be a really bad decision to have your 6yo in the gym for 25 hours a week. I think your coach is cracked for even suggesting it. If your dd has "hit a plateau" at 6yo, maybe gymnastics isn't a sport for her. 12 hours a week is plenty of time for her to reasonably and safely up-train age appropriate tricks as well as condition for tops (which I personally think is a just a money maker for usag and individual gyms.imo). Too many hours will damage her body and her spirit. (I have recently watched my dd go through this after a sudden increase in hours and expectations) I think she has plenty of time to work up to those kind of hours in the gym - and more - if SHE really wants it.

As for home-schooling. I love it. We have been homeschooling for 5 years. Gymnastics was a very small part of our decision. Our decision rested on our children's personalities and our school's ability to kill our children's desire to learn. It has been fun, challenging, frustrating and rewarding. Do some researching into homeschooling styles and think really hard about it being a lifestyle you want to live. When you home-school and have a gymnast your live begins to revolve around those 2 things.

If you want to know more about homeschooling fell free to contact me. It would probably become to lengthy for this board.

Good luck, and welcome to CB.
 
Aug 2, 2008
322
east coast
yes, its crazy, and completely unnessary. Its also unsafe and did I mention unnecessary. 12 hours is PLENTY for a 6 year old. Dont do it.
 
Jun 26, 2009
568
California
Wow... That sounds like a lot of hours for such a little girl. I'm thirteen and in level 7 and I go 15 hours at most. I think how many hours she goes already is a lot. I had a friend who absolutely hated gymnastics, even though she was really good at it because her mom wouldn't let her quit and made her go almost 20 hours a week. To avoid letting her get burnt out, I'd wait until she at least turned 9-10 to get up to that many hours so she knows why she goes that often and is okay with it.

Welcome to CB!

GCG
 
Oct 6, 2007
261
29
Pittsburgh, PA
Wow. I'm 16 and can't even fathom 25 hrs/wk in the gym. That is crazy! When I was in level 4, we did 9 hours a week and it was plenty - we stayed (and still to this day) competitive with allllllll the other gyms who train 18+ hours a week. I'm an optional and we STILL do 9 hours a week - last year, we won the tri-state team championship. Good gymnastics can still be taught in a shorter amount of time.

Personally... I think it's too much for a 6 year old. There's a good chance she'd burn out in a few years, sad as that may be. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but that's my two cents.

Welcome to the chalk bucket, btw! :)
 
Sep 9, 2008
451
Welcome to CB! This is a great place with lots of great advice and knowledge. Wow, 25 hours at 6 years old! That is....... to much. I have an 8 year old level 6 gymmie. She too was 6 at level 4. At that time she did 10 hours. I can not imagine her doing more hours at that age. Infact, she is 8 years old now and is only doing 12 hours. Gym wanted her to do 16 hours, but as parents we decided that she was to young. Her health, family life and acadmeics must come before gymnastics. Her coaches whole heartedly supported us on this decision. I do know a lot of friends who's gymmies go more hours. They seem to handle it well, but they still are no where near 25 hours. My gymmie is holding her own on less hours. Could she be doing "better" with more hours? Possibly. Who can tell. All I know is that we had to do what we thought was best for her. Keeping her well rounded in everything is our priority. They miss out on so much of the ordinary life of other kids. In the end, you are the one that knows what is best for your child and your family. I do not homeschool, however I have many friends that do. I have not known of anyone to homeschool because of athletics. These parents have to be very driven and organized. Many planned activities, not just hitting the books at home for an hour or two. If it is not something that you are pasionate about, I would imagine it would be very difficult to do. I am a teacher by trade, however teaching my own children would do me in! :) I know there is a site that someone posted about the number of athletes in each level and how they drop dramatically after level 5. I of course can only speculate as to the reasons, but it is something to think about. Good luck to you and your little gymmie.
 
G

gymnut1

I would have worries about a gym that admits it can't continue to progress a 6 year old level 4 on 12 hours a week. She should be able to make lots of progress at that age and level on 12 hours a week. Plenty of wonderful girls reach level 7 on 12 hours a week. Don't be pressurised.
 

gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,841
North Carolina
Hi & welcome to CB ! I am afraid I must jump on the same train as everyone else, I think that is too many hours for a 6 yr old.

My DD is a 9 yr old L4. She trains 9 hours a week. She and her teammates are competitive @ meets. The lowest AA score we had at the last meet was a 34.900.
They also have time to uptrain, 3 of the 5 L4's have their back tuck, 2 have BWO on beam. All are going over the vault table with handspring vault. 3 have squat on jump to high bar and DD has her flyaway.

IMHO 12 hours @ L4, they should have enty of time to uptrain. The most anyone at our gym trains is 12 hours a week. We have several AA state champs and an AA regional champ. It can be done.

I would also worry about over use injuries, they only get one set ok knees, ankles, wrists etc...

Best of luck on your decision. In the end, only you and your fily know what is best for your daughter.
 
I haven't read all the replies yet but felt the need to say right off the top that these types of issues are up to the parents but I can say for certain that I wouldn't let my daughter train 25 hours a week now (she is 11) much less when she was 6. I really don't see the need for it because really, as cool as the Olympics may be, even if she does manage to achieve that, I don't see dedicating so many of her youthful, never -get-back childhood hours to a sport at such a young age. Gymnastics should enhance a young child's life, not take it over.

I look forward to hearing more about your daughter and seeing video if you have a youtube :)

Welcome!
 
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T

taximom

At 6 years old 12 hours a week sounds reasonable. I would not feel pressured to train more hours.
When my daughter was 7 she stated training 16 hours in the summer and did carry through 16 hours during the school year. She managed her schedule well and loved being in the gym. Now with that being said, I'm not sure I would be in such a rush to increase the hours if I were again in the same situation. The following year her hours increased to 20 per week which included 2 morning practices before school. The mornings are now gone but she has always missed Friday afternoon from school. She currently is in the gym 22 hours per week. She loves every minute of it even when it's frustrating.
Since then I have seen girls come into the program at age 7, with no experience, climb to a high level within a few years. I don't think you need to hurry as much as they are telling you.
In the end the decision is yours, and you will be the one responsible for it. Best of luck to you and your daughter and welcome to the CB!
 
B

Billy

It seems to me as you have two issues going here, the hours at the gym and whether or not to home school. First, I, too, agree that 25 hours of gym is way too much for a 6 year old. Even if she loves her gym time, that is too much pounding and stress on a little body. However, my daughter started doing 16 hours just after she turned 7 and she didn't have any problem. She had the option of increasing to 20 hours and we said no. She is now a level 7 and still training 16 hours a week. That's enough for now.

As for home schooling, we do home school two of our three children. It started with my daughter and yes, we did do it largely because of gymnastics. It has worked out beautifully and she and I both love it. Even though her gym schedule no longer requires home schooling, we continue because we do love it. Home schooling my daughter was also a blessing in that it prepared me to home school my son when he began to need extra attention and help with his schooling earlier this school year. So now I teach them both. And, as long as my daughter continues to put so much time and effort into gymnastics, and as long as she wants to continue, we will home school her (though we will use a more formal program when she gets into middle school for college eligibility purposes). I do expect my son to go back to public school once he is on more secure academic footing.
 
Jul 20, 2009
200
Region 3
Our dd was competing level 4 at age 6. She went 5 hours a week at that time. We upped the amount of hours she was in the gym as she went through the levels. She recently changed gyms and is there 20 hours a week - but she is a level 8 and 10 years old. I would think that too many hours at such a young age will lead to burnout. You know you child best, but our girls our little kids first and gymnasts second. You can always add more hours later, but it is really hard to cut back once you have already given in and gone to more hours. Proceed with caution!
 
S

starmaker

I just wanted to add that your gym sounds very similar to my dd's old gym. She too is a 6yo Level 4 but last year she competed level 3 at 5 yo. At the end of last season, HC/Owner approached me about putting dd in their day program and homeschooling(for similar reason they gave you). I didn't neccesarily object to the homeschooling part (I think my dd would thrive in a homeschooling program). But when I started to seriously consider the amount of hours a week she would have to put in, the years of the training and her age. It just didn't seem something that would lead to sucess.

That being said. Her old gym strongly encouraged morning program. I knew if I declined the offer they would neglect coaching her to her potential to prove a point. I realized I needed to find another gym for her quick. Unfortunately some gyms are not always looking out for what's in the child's best interest.

Good luck in making this decision for your dd. Let your motherly instincts guide you.
 
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