Keeping your little one occupied after school is a very real situation. They are still full of energy and bedtime is quite some time away. How to choose the best after school activity for your child is a question you need to consider at some length.
Here are some tips to help you to choose the best after school activity for your kids. However, it would do good to remember that there are no “one size fits all” activity. Children are unique and so should their programs.
Tips for Choosing The Right After School Activities for Your Children
Ask Your Child: There are a variety of programs and activities that can be available at different costs. To find the best activity to engage and stimulate your baby ask what THEY want to do after school on a regular basis. Are they comfortable enough going alone for some activity or is there something they want to do with a friend? Let them take sometime to think and decide on a list of activities that they think they want to do. Draw up the shortlisted activities but don’t just include activities that you might think that they would enjoy – your child may surprise you with his or her choice of chosen activities also. Once you have chosen one activity sit down with your child and talk to them about understanding the commitment of choosing a program as there is nothing worse than enrolling for the activity, paying a huge fees and not liking it after two – three weeks. Look for their hidden aptitudes in their everyday behavior to help guide them to choose the right after school activity
Age Appropriate: Whatever you do, don’t push your child into any activity that he or she is not old enough to fully understand. Also make sure that in the activity centre the classes are divided into age appropriate groups or classes depending on the level of advancement and age. Very young children and beginners are generally segregated from the rest of the more advanced classes for smooth learning. Classes that go on for hours can get quickly boring for younger children whereas classes grouped with older children may lead them to feel self conscious as they come across as experts. Older children however benefit from grouping together few after school activities which helps them to burn off excess energy from the body and mind and keeping them motivated.
Cost Factor: This is one of the most important factors that you need to keep in mind while selecting the after school activity for your child. Certain sports require a lot of highly sophisticated equipment, certain creative classes require expensive supplies and almost all classes will have a hefty joining fee along with the regular fee. So enquire before hand of all the costs involved especially of equipment and supplies. Get detailed information about the fee involved and whether the centre allows to take few classes for free as trial. Last thing you want is to shell out a load and then your child losing interest in the activity.
Travel Factor: Another factor you should consider is that till your child is older and can take himself or herself to the activity centre it will have to be you who will have to do all the driving and transporting. So choose the activity centre that will not take you hours to drive to after school as this will only lead to draining of energy even before getting to the venue. Travel time is extremely important as your child and you both may not continue to feel equally enthusiastic about the activity if it involves hours of travelling in the car each week.
Number of Activities: Parents want their kids to be achievers. So much so that many parents end up pushing their children into multiple activities depending on what they feel are the best after school activities for them. This results in a mad rush from one class to another with concentration being ultimately devoted to none. So the child develops an antipathy towards the activities and sees them as mere routine activities and completed without enthusiasm. So even if as parents your peer group tells you about trending activities that all kids are doing after school you need to understand your child’s aptitude and willingness and most importantly his or her interest while selecting the right after school activity for YOUR child.
Pick Your Venue: Once you have chosen the after school activity or program make sure that the facility that will be used – whether it’s a sports area, gym, someone’s home or a classroom – is up to your standards. Pay a visit when other classes are in session to monitor the behavior and ratio of student to teacher. Note the cleanliness especially in the toilets and make sure that there is proper sanitation and hygiene. Feel free to ask as many questions to the staff as well as the teachers to determine whether it would be fit for your child. Remember to visit the facility BEFORE you take your child as you don’t want your child to fall in love with the idea of the activity only to have you nix it.
Consider Your Child’s Aptitude: Balancing your toddler’s after-school life is crucial to maintaining his or her overall aptitude. Depending on how old your child is you can enroll him or her in one or two (for kindergarten kids) to up to about 20 – 25 hours of after school activities for your middle schooler. It is very important to keep an eye on your child so that he or she does not end up overexerting himself or herself with after school commitments. Try not to over-schedule activities and make sure he or she has adequate time to complete the schoolwork without having to stay up late. Set limits on activities if your child appears to be falling back in school or appears crabby and irritable.
Your child is unique and you never know whether you have a budding Picasso, Madonna, Neymar or Meryl Streep in your home. So while it is important to encourage their creative talent or sporting ability, it is equally important to remember not to push them into activities that you feel they are good at.