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6 Tips for Choosing the Best Activities for Your Kids

Engaging in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and/or clubs has been shown to provide social, mental, and physical benefits for children. Not only that, it can help provide structure, teach time management skills, and allow your child to learn new skills. 

That said, it can be difficult to find the right activity, and it can also be difficult to find the right balance between structured activities and free, playtime. Here are some tips to help you and your children find the activities that best suit your needs.

Make Sure Your Child Is Ready

From younger and younger ages, it seems that we push our kids to do more so that they can impress future colleges with a long list of achievements and extracurricular activities. Pushing our kids for success is great, but it can be detrimental if we start too early. Children who start extracurricular activities too early are usually not developmentally or socially ready to engage in the class/group as expected. This can lead to frustration for your child and cause reluctance to engage in the future. When deciding to sign up young children make sure that the activity is developmentally appropriate.

Start Small

When getting started with extracurricular activities you don’t have to do everything at once. Start at a pace that eases your child into incorporating weekly activities. Some ways to gradually include activities may be to look for something that meets once a week or biweekly instead of meeting 3+ times a week. Also, be sure to consider recreational activities/sports before signing up for competitive leagues which require more time and dedication. Furthermore, for younger kids, consider starting with an activity that involves parents, like a Mommy and Me class that will help ease your child into engaging in an activity without the fear of separation anxiety. 

Lean On Your Child’s Interests

When choosing the best activity for your child make sure that you include your child’s input. At the end of the day, your child is the one actually participating in the activity and you want to make sure that they find fulfillment. Talk with your child to see what interests them and what they would like to participate in as an extracurricular. Having these discussions ensures that your child will get the most out of their activities and find them rewarding and enriching vs stressful. If you feel another activity may be good for your child try to give them a trial run with it (like a trial class)  that allows them to try something new without too much pressure.  

Remember the Overall Goals

In addition to extracurriculars allowing your child to follow their interests and pursue their passions, extracurriculars are also good for teaching commitment, dedication, and time management skills. Even if your child doesn’t like their activities, depending on their reasoning, it can be a good way to help them learn about perseverance. Try to encourage them to stick out the duration of the session and not just give up at the first challenge.

Do Your Research

There are many options for extracurricular activities, and sometimes the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. When it comes to picking the next activity for your child, make sure you do your research to find the best fit. First, consider looking up a list of the available activities in your area. Once you have a couple of options, try to plan a visit to the facility, talk to other parents whose kids share the same interests, and check out a few online reviews to make sure the place is reputable. Additionally, Childwatch is a great tool for allowing parents and childcare providers to stay in communication and share recommendations on activities that may suit your children.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to say no if the activity your child wants to pursue does not align with your budget, lifestyle, schedule, or values. Although it is encouraged to follow your kid’s interests there are times when that may just not be possible. Do your best to find workable alternatives that allow your child to get the needed benefits of extracurriculars without adding unnecessary stress and frustration to you and your child’s lives. If something does not work let your child know they can try it later when it would be a better fit. 

All in all, extracurricular activities should be about having fun. If the activity you are doing is causing you or your child stress, it may just not be the best option. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate and take a look into all of the other options available.