How to Choose the Best Activities for Kids
We live in a society with hundreds of options for leisure and personal development. For children, there are even more available options. There are all kinds of sports, science, arts, and other types of activities that promise to enhance your child’s development and improve their skills. Selecting the best extra-curricular activities for your kid can be challenging because there are so many options to choose from, each with its own set of benefits. Let’s take a look at a few ideas that will help you make the best decision.
Make a collaborative choice
The decision about your kid’s extra-curriculars should not be made only by you. It’s important to listen to your child and their preferences. Many parents make the choice on their own, trying to consider what’s best but do not take into account what the kid would prefer. This can happen if the child hasn’t made their feelings on the matter clear or doesn’t seem to have a particular preference. It can also happen more with younger children, as many parents feel that they are not able to make these types of choices. However, regardless of the child’s age, it’s important to ask them what they want. You can tell them a bit about the options and ask what seems more appealing. Children may not always be able to choose and might find themselves disappointed in some activities or enjoying others, but taking their opinion into account is essential.
Avoid focusing on the prestige
Some parents choose activities depending on what will sound better, whether it will be in their conversations with their friends or on the child’s hypothetical future resume. However, this can be a bad guidelines. Firstly, the prestige of an activity is often very fleeting, and some activities that seem importance may lose this glow later on. For example, there are many fads in earily stimulation or exercise that later become disproven or even mocked. Secondly, what a child likes and is good at is not always what is most prestigious. Putting them into an activity for the associated perks can put a burden of expectations and make everyone feel disappointed if it doesn’t work out.
Make sure the child has free time
It can be tempting to book every afternoon with a variety of activities, especially because it can feel like everybody is doing it. However, for any child, it’s very important to have free unstructured play time and time to just rest and do nothing. This is as necessary for their development as any class. It’s important not to overload the child with activities and stick to just 1-2, especially when they are going to school at the same time. If the activity is causing stress or affecting the child’s anxiety, sleep quality, and well-being, it may be time to reconsider.
Don’t focus on the stereotypes
A girl may not necessarily be interested in dancing or art, just as a boy may not be intrinsically drawn to sports. It’s important to allow your child to choose an activity that suits their personality and inclinations rather than their gender, the family tradition, or any other factor. This means that it’s worth looking into alternatives and suggesting novel activities to your kids, rather than stick with those you might think of first. It’s important to avoid showing disapproval to your children for choosing something that may be unmanly or unfeminine or that doesn’t fit with the cultural stereotypes, as this will help them fully enjoy their activities and explore their identities.
Be flexible and experiment
Sometimes, it’s worth trying many things rather than sticking with just one activity. If your kid ends up hating football or dislikes ballet, it’s important to give them the freedom to find new alternatives. While persistence is certainly a virtue, extra-curriculars should not become a punishment. A good idea is to set a timeline – if your kid is still unhappy after three months (or after whatever cycle you have paid for ends), they get to choose something else. If your kid doesn’t have clear preferences, another option is to try sample classes or short-term workshops before making a long-term commitment. Even then, children may stop enjoying an activity or find that the environment they liked has changed. It’s worth being flexible in this sense.
Choose for your kids, not for yourself
Many parents feel that they should give their kids something they either lacked as children or something that they enjoyed. However, this approach might not always work out. Many children have different tastes to their parents but may feel pressured to like or stick with an activity they don’t enjoy if they know their parents have a lot of expectations riding on it. It’s best to focus more on your child and allow them to make different choices.
Overall, selecting a kid’s activities is an important task. It can offer them a hobby that they will have for a lifetime, contribute to a successful career path, or simply give them a lot of fun memories. Many parents approach this quite seriously and place many expectations on the thing they choose, expecting it to provide all of the above and more. However, an activity mostly serves as a way of making new friends and having fun, and reducing the pressure can make it much more enjoyable for the parent and the child. Your best bet is to listen to your kid and find something that they seem to have fun with and that doesn’t interfere with their childhood or their schooling.