During the school year, academics become the spotlight focus of our kid’s day. With their brains working hard to master new skills, perfect existing ones and navigate their day-to-day learning, one of the things they can do to give their brains a break and work on other important skills is participating in extracurricular activities throughout the year.
Finding the right activity for your child will depend on their interests, strengths and preferences. And when they do find the thing that they love, the opportunity for social, emotional and physical growth is endless!
The Benefits of Joining In!
Being a part of a team, club or other activity provides our kiddos with so many opportunities to play with a purpose – the benefits are endless!
Being a part of a beyond school activity can:
- Supports important social skills – teamwork, interpersonal communication, cooperation, self management and much more.
- Builds and strengthens executive functioning skills such as time management, organizational thinking, problem solving and task prioritization
- Provides the opportunity for kids to take a leadership role which will boost confidence and self esteem.
- Supports PT, OT and Social Work goals through various activities
- Fosters new friendships and social interactions in a structured and safe environment.
- Gives our kiddos a break from home and school in a positive and engaging way
Choosing The Right Extracurricular Activity
For many of our kids, there is a wide variety of activities to choose from when deciding what they would like to do. When it comes to choosing which is the best fit for your kiddo, and your family, there are a few things to consider.
Overall, make sure to take into account what your child’s strengths, challenges and comfort levels are before deciding on an extracurricular activity.
Consider Child’s Preferences
It can be easy to have all your kids do the same activity or enroll them in the thing you loved the most as a child but that’s not always setting them up for success.
Give you kiddos the space, time and information to really think about what they’d like to do, what they are interested in trying and how much time they want to give to an extra activity.
Family Schedule & Availability
There are many sports and activities that require a lot of family time commitment – after school, weekend, etc – and if this isn’t something that works for your family at that time, it’s best to skip that one for now.
Also consider how much extra time and energy your child is able to commit to. Younger kiddos may be mentally and physically exhausted after a full day of school so having an activity scheduled several days a week might be too much.
For older kids, consider how much homework and study time they will have in the school year and plan extracurricular activities accordingly so the fun extra stuff doesn’t feel like one more thing they have to manage.
For all kids, taking their particular needs into consideration is important when choosing an after-school and weekend activity.
Consider Non-Competitive Sports
For our kids who want and need the physical benefits of sports but may not be into the competitive nature of team sports, there are a lot of options out there! Look into a sport or activity that has a more recreational tone than a competitive one.
- Martial Arts
- Dance classes
- Hiking or outdoor exploration clubs
- Yoga classes
- Running clubs
Check with your local rec center for options that will get your kiddos moving, give them a confidence boost and feel totally accessible for them!
Choosing a Non-Sport Extracurricular Activity
When it comes to extracurricular activities for our kids it can be easy to default to some kind of sport or physical activity but that may not be a good fit for your child. Thankfully there are so many options for those kiddos!
Again, take their particular interests, abilities and comfort levels into consideration when choosing – let them lead the way!
- Art & Crafts Clubs and Classes – painting/drawing, pottery, photography, sewing
- Performing Arts – theater, voice and/or instrument lessons, visual arts
- Culinary Arts – cooking, baking, cake decorating, specialty cooking
- Academic Clubs – science, math, writing, foreign language
The physical, mental and social benefits of participating in an extracurricular activity are huge for our kiddos, but it’s not one size fits all! When deciding which activities they should participate in, take into consideration their strengths, ability, comfort level and personal preferences!