Many factors can be considered when deciding on the perfect after-school activity for your child. Taking clues from their personality, choosing between independent and team sports, and the proximity to activities are all things that play a part in the decision making process. Support your child by helping them choose an age-appropriate and safe activity that they are excited to participate in.
Look for clues in your child’s actions and interests to help you ascertain which extracurricular activities are best suited to them. If your child is always climbing the furniture or hanging off things, you may have a budding rock climber on your hands. Does she break out in song or dance at the first sign of a beat? Dance and theatre could be right up her alley.
Consider personality and give them a choice. Many kids are keen to try something when they are given a choice, while others shy away from everything. If your child has an adventuresome spirit, speak to him about the different options available in your area. If he is more timid about trying new things, find out what activities offer a trial class or drop-in option. This way you can introduce different opportunities to see what he enjoys the most before committing to a full session.
Is your child a team player or more of a solo flyer? Sometimes it’s best not to push the full team sports if your child is not ready for it. Yes, organized athletics may have been your favourite diversion as a child, but your daughter may prefer the self-discipline of Taekwondo, swim club or tennis instead.
Look beyond sports. For kids who want to participate in other things besides sports, look for hobby and skill-based clubs such as art classes, music lessons, and your local girl guides or boy scouts troupe.
Proximity and transportation to and from extracurricular activities are also key factors in your decision making process. If a studio is on the other side of town, it may be challenging to make it there on time after school. The lack of public transportation or limited availability of carpooling can make it impossible for many parents to even consider certain activities.
Strive for balance with after-school pursuits. Often, one activity a week is enough when kids are juggling school, playdates and more. Ensure they have enough time to do homework and get adequate sleep, as this is essential to healthy development.
After-school activities should be a positive and confidence-boosting experience. Whether your child is learning a new instrument, training for a sport or volunteering in the community, exposing them to a variety of activities will help them become well-rounded individuals. And they may discover a true passion in the process. Support your child by helping them to choose an age-appropriate and safe activity that they are excited to participate in, and don’t forget about the importance of unstructured play.
By Kristen Wint