I moderated a panel this week that featured admissions officers from Stanford and UCLA, as well as a high school counselor with 30 years experience helping kids get into college. A parent asked what she should be doing with her kids in elementary and junior high school seeing that so many parents around her are shuttling their kids to private tutors, expensive lessons, and club teams.
The high school counselor jumped in first. "Tell your kids to breathe."
She went on to describe that elementary and junior high school are times when kids should be kids. It's great for them to play on a club soccer team, or take piano lessons, or even take a summer school class if that's what makes them happy. But not every nine-year-old is ready to pledge undying commitment to one activity.
And for the record, the panelists from UCLA and Stanford said they'd never seen any indication that successful applicants got there by starting their college journey in elementary school.
So if your nine-year-old balks at piano lessons and would much rather build paper airplanes to have contests with the neighborhood kids to see whose can fly the farthest (that's what I did), that's fine. It's normal.
Everyone, just breathe.