Extra curricular activities can be both fun and useful. Many people have become very successful and prolific at something that started out as simple as a Saturday class. So how do you go about picking one for your kids?
1. Think of them. Now it’s easy to envision yourself parading your family around displaying all of your kids’ trophies from their new-found extra curricular activities. That’s because you are probably doing it just for you and the praise that you will receive from having the next soccer star in your home. So before you do that, ask them what they’d like to do. If they are unsure or can’t decide, try thinking of them. What would feel comfortable winning and losing in? What types of activities most match their interests. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
2. Don’t assume. Just because everyone in their peer or age group is interested in one thing, doesn’t mean that they are expected to. When entertaining the idea of my youngest son joining an activity, my mother immediately thought of sports. It was simply because she’s been conditioned to think that sports are for boys and all boys should and will like it. I can tell you, right now, that my son would not be interested in sports and involving him in it would only be based on my and society’s assumptions.
3. Think long-term. As fun as it may seem watching your little ones make a dizzy mess out of themselves at gymnastics or dizzy wizzy class, it’s in their best interest that you think bigger than that. Extra curricular activities are a great way to hone a child’s skills and develop them into something that they can use in life and career. Many of the famous inventors and engineers in history, started at a young age, learning from the masters and developing their craft. Today is no different. Think of things that would help them in the future, skills that would land them a job, and would benefit them in the long run, rather than just them having a good old time.
4. Consider failure. When my parents would sign me up for extra curricular activities, their motto was if I wasn’t showing excellent results, they were no longer going to keep up with my registration. They didn’t spend time keeping up with my practice or assignments at home, therefore I never did excel. I bounced around from program to program simply because my parents didn’t want to see failure. If you’re going to sign your child up for activities, make sure you and they are both prepared for failure. Make it known that there may be times of difficulty, making mistakes, and flat out failing but that’s no time to give up and move on to the next activity. You can teach them something very valuable about perseverance and endurance.
5. Don’t overwhelm. I have to say that I loved extra curricular classes as a kid. It wasn’t, at all, like school. Kids were there because they wanted to be and the teachers were masters at their craft rather than glorified babysitters just looking to control a class. It was such a relief from the mundane concept of curricular education. However, parents tend to want to prove something by enrolling their child into 15 different things. This won’t create anything but miserable and stressed out underachievers. People are generally masters at only one thing because they’re human.