Summer is half over and it’s time to take a look at Fall programs for your child. Choosing the right activity can be a challenge. There is the question of scheduling, of venue, of cost and, of course, what your child wants to do. It’s important to take a look at the big picture. If the program your considering is going to be incredibly disruptive to the family because of timing or location, is it worth it? What are the costs associated with your choice? Is if affordable for the family.
Taking the time to choose the right program for your child will make life easier for all of you.
Choosing Extra-Curricular Programs for your Child.
Gymnastics or Swimming? Soccer or Hockey? Drama or Piano? There are dozens of choices of extra-curricular activities for your kids.
How much time should our kids spend in these programs? And which ones are best for them?
The best way to determine what is best for your child is to ask her. What does she want to do? Extra curricular activities are for fun, recreation and relaxation. The first consideration is what they will enjoy the most, not what will benefit them the most academically and professionally down the road. The irony is that what they enjoy is also best because they will have fun, they’ll relax and also learn because they will love what they’re doing.
If your child is young or just doesn’t really know what she wants, then consider what she likes to do. In her free time is she likely to want to get involved in arts and crafts, or will you find her dancing around the living room or tossing a ball against the house? While you’re scanning the flyers advertising the multitude of activities try to imagine your child being involved and it’s likely one activity or class will just jump out at you. If the number of possibilities is overwhelming create a short list and then have her take a look and make a choice.
I also believe that every child should learn how to swim. Everyone at some point in their lives will find themselves on or near water and will need to know how to cope. It’s as important as knowing how to cross the street. A basic swimming course, preferably when they are young, is an excellent idea.
The trick is to maintain a balance so that the kids have time for school, for friends, for family, for free play and for simply hanging out. Generally, I find that a good rule of thumb is that your child take part in some group activity such as a sport and one other program that fits their current interest.
A group activity has many benefits. Kids learn how to work as a member of a team, how to follow orders and how to be a gracious winner and loser. They will also learn skills specific to their chosen sport.
If you find that you never have a chance to sit down for dinner together, you rarely talk to your kids except to verify scheduling plans and you have lost touch with them, you need to adjust your life. Family is every bit as important as hockey or gymnastics so ensure that there are times when you are together with some time on your hands. A relaxing meal together, a trip to the park or time to play a board game (I know it’s old-fashioned but try it, it could be fun!) can be quality time for you as a family.
If you find your child doesn’t want to go to her programs, is tired and cranky and afterwards simply doesn’t want to talk about it you need to reconsider.
It could be that something is happening that is making her unhappy. Maybe other kids or the leader or coach are bullying her. Or, maybe she simply doesn’t like the activity. Become curious, ask questions, watch her activity and make a reasoned decision about what to do next.
The rules change if your child is one of the very few who is going to be an elite athlete. Olympic figure skating medalist Karen Magnussen (winner of the 1972 Olympic silver medal and 1973 World champion gold medal) once told me that if a child were a potential elite athlete no one would have to push her. She will have her own little engine inside her body pushing her to excel. If parents need to cajole and nag her, she’s a kid partaking in a sport, not an elite athlete. That makes her a typical, regular kid. When your child is elite, your role is to support and protect her as she moves through the stages to reach her potential.
With a little thought and planning you can make extra-curricular activities a joy for the whole family and who doesn’t want that?
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face it, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I always have my kindle with me when I travel.
There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway?talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.
Vive la Différence talks about special challenges some children brings to the picture.
The books are down to earth and common sense as well as easy to read. If you want some basic parenting tips and information these books are a good place to start.