Having the right attitude toward your child’s extracurricular activities can have a lasting and profound effect on the rest of their life.
It’s difficult to toe the balance between helicopter parenting and showing no interest in your child’s after-school activities. Having input and giving guidance is a crucial aspect of any parent’s job. However, it’s important to pull back when your child reaches the age when they are able to make significant personal decisions.
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That being said, you never really lose your say until your kid is out of the house and out on their own. Depending on age and interest, your child should be in some sort of extracurricular activity. Here are a few tips on how to choose those activities.
How to Choose Extracurricular Activities
Your child is unique just like any other child, and that individuality should guide your decision to place them in extracurricular activities. Many parents take their childhood experiences as exact blueprints on how to raise a child.
It’s never a good idea to place images and dreams of your own onto the lives of your children. Sure, putting them in one year of soccer to see if they like it is A-OK, but don’t force them to stay in an activity that they aren’t interested in.
It’s important to pick a variety of activities early on and see what spikes your child’s interest the most. A good balance of sporting activities and social activities is healthy and should be sought after.
In any case, you’ll want some guidelines in which activities to sample and what to look for when your child comes home and tells you all about them.
The wide world of sports has a variety of different activities that will require different levels of effort, physical skill, and opportunities. Choose sports based on your child’s interest in them.
For example, if your child loves baseball but you played lacrosse in college, don’t force them to play lacrosse. Many children don’t have a good idea of what they would like to do when they are entering the minimum age requirements for various sports.
In this case, a little push never hurts. Sign your child up for a number of different sports in different seasons. It’s likely that many other parents will be doing the same thing and your children will be able to develop friendships while they’re exploring new activities.
Make note of the costs of the sports you are signing your child up for. If they are to pursue the activity throughout their school career, the costs can be considerable.
Providing your children with training in the arts will likely give them a lifelong outlet to express themselves, meet people, and even make a living. In much the same way as sports, don’t force the piano if your child doesn’t enjoy the activity in the slightest.
Music classes are an excellent way to start your kids in music. Music classes are relatively cheap and only require minimal investment. This will push your child to practice a skill and develop talent as they move forward in their lessons. Piano is a good instrument to start on because many other instrument lessons require a level of piano skill before entering.
Painting, photography, or other art courses are also a definite option. Visual arts are a great way for kids to express themselves and have fun while doing it. Many early art classes will involve mixed media and finger painting, etc. This relatively simple form of art helps to build confidence and relationships.
Another option to consider is acting or drama classes. Many children are overly excited by the idea of being in the movies or plays and want to emulate their favorite characters on television.
This is great, and you should encourage their enthusiasm! Kids are goofy by nature, and their silliness is well received in dramatic environments. Developing a deep skill in the dramatic arts can lead to a lot of possibilities for your child down the lines.
If this strikes a particular interest, there are many dramatic arts schools and academies that will help kids hone their skills.
When your child enters junior high or high school, forensics is another great after-school option. Falling into the category of the arts, speech and debate (forensics) allow children to develop their skills in argumentation, acting, writing, and reviewing.
Speech teams allow kids to rehearse and perform acts around the county, state, and possibly nation. It is an underrepresented, highly competitive activity. Forensics also looks exceptional on college applications, as it shows a high level of analytic and reasoning skills.
Social groups like the boy scouts or girl scouts are an excellent way to build character and friendships. With continued meetings and opportunity for improvement and advancement, many social groups can be just what your child needs to develop the social skills needed in today’s world.
Elementary, Middle, and High Schools all have ample after-school clubs for children with different interests. Most elementary schools have generalized after-school programs which allow the children to explore different interests and programs.
Junior high is typically when kids start to identify their favorite activities and pursue them. The main thing in these times is to allow them to follow the activities that they choose. There is no benefit in preventing a child from doing something that they may come to love.
High school will also provide a host of club-opportunities that can lead to leadership positions, college scholarships, and high confidence in organizational skills. These are the kinds of activities that can actually help your child land a job.
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Let Them Follow Their Hearts
The most important thing you can do for your child is to be lenient and allow them to pick their own extracurricular activities if they truly desire to. This will lead to the highest level of engagement, performance, and relationships.
If you’re looking for more information on how to navigate difficult parenting situations, do some further research and gather differing opinions.