A child’s educational career is a long one, and for good reason. Throughout their education, they are learning the basic, vital skills that will form the foundation for their future, and the strength of this foundation can very well determine the ease with which they transition into adulthood and meet with success in their life. However, when considering what valuable knowledge and skills a child will gain throughout their education, it is easy to focus primarily on the academic side of things. While there is certainly no arguing that academics are of high importance, they alone do not provide a child with the full breadth of knowledge and skills they will need throughout their school years and beyond. Extracurricular activities in school and at home are also very important.
Extracurricular activities can allow children to apply their academic knowledge and also acquire and polish many practical skills and abilities that they will need throughout their life. They allow children to explore the world around them and, through firsthand experiences, improve their skills and cultivate new interests. The only real challenge is staring down the long list of possibilities and choosing the best extracurricular activities for your child.
Choosing the Best Extracurricular Activities
Should you enroll your child in soccer lessons? Dance lessons? Basketball lessons? Piano lessons? The opportunities are literally endless and can be overwhelming to consider and choose from. And choose you must, since your child simply doesn’t have the time to try them all. Fortunately, there are some easy guidelines you can follow to figure out which extracurricular activities will be the best:
1. Decide whether the activity supports important values. For example, soccer, volleyball, and other sports lessons are a great way for children to learn and practice self-discipline, cooperation, perseverance, physical health, and much more. This can make certain types of extracurricular activities more appealing than others, and therefore a better choice.
2. Determine what long-term benefits the activity will provide. If your child seems vastly interested in becoming a fine artist but is only mildly interested in ballet because her friends are taking lessons, it seems likely that art lessons will provide far more long-term benefits than ballet lessons. Of course, this does not mean that children should not explore a range of extracurricular activities that they find to be interesting, but in choosing the best ones you should always consider the long-term benefits.
3. Consider how closely the activity corresponds with your child’s natural talents, abilities, strengths, and interests. Your child may profit enormously from taking horseback riding lessons–not because they intend to have a career in this field but because they love horses and have a wonderful ability to be patient and gentle with animals. Their interest and ability can drive them to persist through challenges they encounter, thereby building valuable skills like self-discipline and cooperation.
4. Find out how often the activity takes place. While extracurricular activities are an important part of your child’s education and life, they should not dominate your child’s schedule and either wear them out or leave little to no time for anything else. That said, there are certain extracurricular activities that are well worth the time they take up, due to their ability to foster interest and long-term benefits. For example, if your child is interested in becoming a professional singer, it is appropriate for their music lessons and performances to gradually take up more and more of their time.
5. Consider the activity’s cost. This can be a fairly major point to consider, especially since the cost of various extracurricular activities can vary widely. You may determine that it isn’t really worth it to invest a veritable fortune in an activity to the exclusion of all other activities.
6. Verify whether the activity’s location is workable. This is a rather obvious point to check, as no matter how wonderful an activity may seem to be, it won’t be workable if it is too far to drive to and from on a regular basis.
Along with all of the above, it is important to keep in mind the fact that children do not have to engage in tons of extracurricular activities in order to be satisfied. Taking the time necessary to select even just one suitable activity can be perfect.