The full title is Sign Me Up!: The Parents’ Complete Guide
to Sports, Activities, Music Lessons, Dance Classes, and
Other Extracurriculars and judging by the size of the tome I
am about to crack open, it should be complete!
This weighty reference is actually several books in one.
Part I is over one hundred pages of activity overview --
from keeping up with the Joneses to limiting activities,
valuing downtime, dealing with siblings and when to call it
quits. Part II is all about sports -- specializing early,
team versus individual, finding the right coach, health
issues, costs and then the sports themselves (archery to
wrestling). Part III focuses on the arts (and performing
arts) -- music, dance, singing and art (animation to
woodworking). Part IV looks at intellectual and community
activities -- from chess and foreign language study to
scouts and 4-H.
Whew! Just reading the table of contents is mind-boggling
enough, but don’t worry, Stacy DeBroff (author of Mom
Central: The Ultimate Family Organizer and The Mom Book:
4,278 of Mom Central’s Tips for Moms, from Moms) takes
readers by the hand and walks them through the maze. The
overall hope is that we won’t create “schedules for our kids
that resemble the calendar of a CEO.” Knowledge is a weapon
to be used in stimulating our children’s intellect and/or
building physical skills while allowing them time to still
Each guide to a specific sport breaks down into general
benefits (e.g. builds strength, endurance, flexibility and
balance), which kids tend to excel in this activity (e.g.
bowling is not dependent upon strength or size), best age to
start, what to look for when getting started (e.g.
background of coach and their philosophy regarding the
sport), safety and injury concerns and cost considerations.
The art and performing arts section is likewise divided into
manageable bites with advantages of particular instruments,
downsides, best age to start, cost considerations and
In addition, interview quotes from parents and coaches
liberally included throughout the book add personalized
perspectives. Each section is also followed by a resource
chapter with contact information (and a brief description)
of related organizations and websites.
On the downside -- Sign Me Up is a lot of reading! Finding
the time to work through the book will be a challenge, but
if you focus on the pages that relate to your child’s
personal scenario, i.e. they’re an average athlete with an
avid interest in baseball and you’d like them to learn to
play piano, then you can skip the rest for now. You’ll
quickly discover that you’re not alone -- “nearly six
million children ages 5-14 participate in the sport of
baseball and softball” and “approximately 62 million people
in the United States play a musical instrument and 97% of
parents polled feel their children benefit from a music
education.” Read on and learn.
Navigating the parental highway is full of decision-making.
Sign Me Up! is a detailed roadmap guaranteed to make the
journey a little easier.