Choosing The Right After-School Activity For Your Child: A Guide
At Sprout School Supplies, we support students’ participation in after-school activities as evidence shows that involvement in extracurricular activities can actually improve your child’s grades. Increased brain function, better time management and higher concentration and focus are just some of the benefits that can contribute to higher academic results and a more positive outlook on life.
However, today we have so many different options to choose from with classes and clubs in almost any activity imaginable, which can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right one for your child. We put together a simple guide with questions that you can ask yourself and apply to your child to find that activity that help foster their individual development or better yet become a joint experience that your family shares together!
What are your child’s interests? Explore free classes.
Even from a young age, children may start to lean towards a particular activity or sport that they enjoy or want to try out. Does he love to read every chance he gets? Is she always wanting to play soccer in the park? Pay attention to these natural attractions, but if your child doesn’t seem drawn to any kind of activity, that’s ok too, or maybe more opportunity to experiment and find out what they enjoy can help.
Check in with your child’s school or local youth club to see if they offer free trials or classes for your child to try out. You can also talk to their teacher to see if they know what your child could potentially be interested in. As you go through the process positive encouragement is wonderful and even a little added structure can help, but be careful not to apply any undue expectations or pressure on your child - keep it fun! Enjoyment and growth often go hand-in-hand.
What are your child’s personality traits?
Is your child a bouncing ball of energy? Maybe something active like playing a sport is right for them where they can focus all that energy into something productive. Or is your child more of an introvert and would rather do a more individualised activity? Something creative like an art class may just be the perfect class for them. Maybe your child is a social butterfly and thrives in group settings? Scouts or Brownie Clubs could be the right fit.
How old is your child?
Certain activities that are more competitive are usually a better match for the older children. Activities for younger children can be more about fun and experimentation. Older children may also go for something more academic but with the increasing amount of homework students receive, activities where they can take a break from academics are also important options to consider.
What’s the Commitment?
Extra curricular activities are great opportunity for your child to grow, but it’s important to not to overload your child or yourself. Before you start any new activity, take an honest look at what your child’s current obligations as well as your own. Extracurriculars are supposed to add to everyone’s life, not take away or overwhelm. A few useful questions to talk about with yourself, your child, and your partner:
- Time. Do you and your child have the time and energy to add another activity?
- Stress. Who will the responsibility of taking your child to and from the activity fall to?
- Cost. Are there ways to share the costs, like pre-owned equipment or carpooling?
- Benefits. What do we all hope to gain from the new activity - family bonding, exercise, social skills, or improved study habits?
- Balance. If you have more than one child, might one commitment create less shared activities within your family?
Once you’ve worked through some of these questions and others, it can help narrow your search down and highlight those activities that can meet these goals and expectations you have set out. Make sure your child also agrees with these goals for a better chance of them enjoying the activity and attending.
What’s available in your community?
Team up with other parents from your school and ask them if they know of any clubs or activities in the area. If their child is already attending one, great! Children are more likely to attend an activity with a friend than if they go alone.
Another thing to consider is: school vs. community. Would you rather your child attend an activity in their school with the students and teachers they already know and are comfortable with? Or do you want them to step out of their comfort zone, make new friends and have new experiences away from their school?
Do you have the budget?
So your child wants to play the piano or softball. That does not mean you need to go out and buy a piano, hire a symphonic professional, and subject the whole family to listening to hours of practice every week or purchase a brand new set of top of the line equipment. Be practical and realistic about your investment, especially at the start while you and your child figure out whether the activity is a good fit. As you go forward, continue to be realistic for you and your family when taking into account your family budget and situation. Many activities such as dance, art or tennis don’t require much equipment or uniform costs, but if you choose an activity for your child that requires investing your money, this needs to be considered.
Do you have the time to spare?
Busy families = Busy schedules. There’s so much to do in so little time so choosing an activity that requires time out to attend games or concerts may put a strain on your family commitments. Also, be careful not to overschedule your child in too many activities that may result in burnout and affect their sleep, homework time and play.
Don’t forget to factor in transportation - do you have access to transport to take your child to weekend games away or weekly practices at their activity club? Are you willing to sacrifice a weekend or more throughout the year to travel with your child to a different state so they can compete in a regional contest?
As we’ve mentioned, whatever activity you choose for your child, engaging and involving them in the decision making process will increase the chances of them enjoying the activity and attending. Maybe they will discover a hidden talent or skill that may lead to a lifelong passion or career option! Even if it doesn’t, your child will still grow and develop as a person and learn invaluable skills that will help them throughout their lives.
Have any tips or success stories of your own to share? We would love to know! Email us or post your comments on Facebook!