The Why And How Of Extracurricular Activities For Kids
The Why And How Of Extracurricular Activities For Kids
For most parents, the moment their child is born, the thoughts of how the future needs to shape up for their little ones is all that crowds their mind. And while there is nothing wrong in hoping and planning, pressuring the child as he/she grows to follow the path that you want, might not be the right thing to do. Yes, you need to choose a great school for your kids, because academics is extremely important, but is only academics essential? Aren’t there other life skills that a child needs to grow with and while some of these, you as a parent might be able to teach, such as good manners and proper hygiene, there is always the need for extra curricular activities for kids too.
There are those who would ask, why extracurricular activities; what is the point to them and are there really any benefits to them. Studies have shown that there are genuine benefits and the prominent ones include:
- Kids are able to discover what truly excites them and perhaps even uncover a passion that lasts them a lifetime – there have been cases where children have chosen their profession based on what they have experienced during activities such as sports and music.
- It has been observed that children who participate in extracurricular activities tend to perform better in school as well, because they often have a greater level of focus.
- Given that all these activities happen post school hours, it also means that children will spend less time in front of screens, and more time learning new skills. In case your child has chosen a physical activity, it also means that they are getting the exercise their body needs, which will translate in better eating habits and better sleep too.
- Finally, most extra curricular activities for kids work as an addition to professional resumes later on in life.
But how do you know if your child is ready?
Well, age matters, because your child needs to be at an age, where they are displaying an interest in certain activities. Are they dancing to the beat of the music playing on the TV or is their favourite toy drums or are they constantly attracted to colours – what they do when they feel no one is looking could be indicators to where their interest lies. More importantly, they should be at an age where they can handle the mental or physical requirements of that particular activity. So, for instance, if you are considering badminton, you need to be sure that your child will be able to hold the racket and complete the hour-long strenuous training.
Now that you feel that your child is ready, how do you go about choosing the right activity for your kid?
While for really young kids, you might have to provide a lot of direction and guidance, older kids might only need a few suggestions to find an activity of their choice.
- The choice of activity for kids needs to be based on what truly fascinates or interests your child – take the time to observe what your child seems interested in and allow them to chance to explore the same. Several activity centres allow trial classes and these are a great way to check if your child is truly interested or not. You could even try multiple such trial classes, before trying to finalise one or maybe two, depending on your child’s schedule.
- Ideally, if there are clubs or activities at your child’s school, it would be the best, because that would mean the surroundings will be familiar and so will the people conducting it. This is actually a good option for younger kids, because it will give them a slight ease of mind; alternately, you could look for activities in your apartment complex or near your home.
- You could always talk to your child’s teacher to figure out the best activities based on your child’s age group. If you are part of any parent groups, you could always ask for opinions there too – if there are other children of the same age group participating in any activities, you can also get a sense of direction.
So, you have enrolled your kid into one or more extracurricular activity class; is your job done?
Absolutely not! As a parent, you need to make sure that you are always paying attention, because initially, the kids might enjoy the novelty of the unique activities for kids that you have chosen, over time, it could start to seem like a chore.
- It is imperative that you keep things interesting for the kids, because they need to enjoy what they are doing. A great way of doing this is showing them how their activities sessions could translate into real life – for instance, if your child has joined cricket classes, take them to watch a match, so that they can see what they could achieve in real life.
- You need to show your constant interest in what they are doing – after each class, ask them what they did today and whether they enjoyed it. It is of absolute importance that you do not force participation at any point of time, because then it could start to feel like a compulsion to the child.
- It is also important that you not overload your child – pick activities that allow some free time for the children, allowing them to play with friends and enjoy a little screen time too. Pay attention to the conversations and behavioural patterns of your child; missing one odd class is fine, but if your child is not wanting to grow every other day, there might be some problem. If that is the case, then it just might be time to quit!
Choosing kids extracurricular activity is your first task and ensuring that they enjoy it and thrive in it, will be the ultimate one!