Soccer. Community theater. Math lessons. Choosing an after-school activity for your child can be overwhelming; you have to figure out what your child needs or would benefit from, what your child will enjoy, and how to schedule it all. The good news is that this is all worth it — there are numerous benefits that come from signing children up for extracurricular activities, from improved social skills to developing lifelong healthy habits.
A popular extracurricular activity that parents put their children in is music lessons, and it’s popular for a good reason. Learning how to play an instrument has numerous benefits:
- Even a short music lesson increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn can give you an energy boost.
- Music can help improve mood and help your kids smile more.
- Since playing an instrument requires you to process a lot of information at once, it can improve multisensory skills.
- Playing along with others can form friendships and strengthen social bonds.
Even if you have musical instruments at home, it’s more beneficial to sign your child up for lessons with a professional. One study showed that preschoolers who took piano lessons developed better reasoning skills than preschoolers who just played around on keyboards at home.
Children who have shown artistic talent or an interest in crafts can sign up for all sorts of creative activities, like drawing, painting, or other general arts and crafts. Artistic activities let children use their imagination, especially if they’re allowed to choose from all sorts of supplies to make what they envision. While your kid may love coloring at home, he may also prefer papier-mache or sculpture when he’s able to choose. If you’re not sure what your child likes yet, sign them up for a beginner’s class, like “Painting 101” for their specific age group.
The arts can also include photography or theater and drama classes are especially beneficial for kids of all ages. Participating in theater activities can improve everything from verbal communication and reading comprehension to SAT scores. Self-esteem can also improve, whether the student is behind-the-scenes writing the plays, or they’re actually performing on stage.
Sports or physical activity
Sports and other types of physical activity have benefits for children that extend far beyond simple exercise and athletics:
- Developing social skills and learning how to get along with people they didn’t know before, including their peers and their coaches.
- Performing well in sports can do wonders for confidence.
- Setbacks and failures teach valuable lessons about how to deal with disappointment.
- Living an active lifestyle from a young age, which will help them to not be sedentary later in life.
It’s clear that your kids can learn a ton by being on a sports team. However, safety is always going to be a concern. Make sure that their coaches are providing them with the right gear, and attend practices when you can to see how your child is being treated and what’s expected of him or her. If you’re not happy with how the program is being run, don’t be afraid to speak up or to enroll your child in a different sport or team.
Being tutored may not be the most exciting after-school activity to a child, but if they’re struggling with a subject in school, it may be a necessity. Tutoring has several benefits:
- Focused time can be spent on one topic the student is struggling with, like math, science, or a foreign language. These subjects can be harder than others to grasp, and a traditional classroom setting isn’t always the right environment for a student.
- Dedicated tutors can advance learning by providing additional training. On top of doing the work that’s required of them, children who show a talent for a certain subject can get more education in that area.
- Any type of homework can be worked on, even if the child isn’t struggling with one topic in particular. Sometimes, kids simply need a quiet place to finish their homework because they have a busy household.
Tutoring doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence – just two days a week may be enough to get your child up to speed, leaving the rest of the week for activities they’ll enjoy. The more successful a child is in school, the more inspired they’ll be to keep doing well.
Extracurricular activities can improve a child’s brain, fitness, and social life, as well as help them perform better in the classroom. The key is to make sure you’re not over-scheduling your child. Just like adults, children who are spread too thin can get overwhelmed and feel stressed out. It’s impossible to focus and improve skills in one area when you’re trying to do too many things at once. Go slowly, choosing one activity to add at a time and keeping a close eye to see if your child is starting to buckle under the pressure instead of enjoying their activities.