These days there are so many exciting after school activities to offer our children that it is sometimes difficult to know which ones to choose. It is natural to want our children to have the best opportunities, the best education, and the best experiences. But how much is too much and do children really need to have every hour of their day organised and regimented?

For millions of parents and children around the world, the day does not end with the school bell. Parents taxi their children from Kumon to piano lessons, gym classes, art, ballet and the odd playdate here and there to fill in the gaps. And at home there are still pictures to be painted, songs to be sung and games to be played. This all adds up to keeping children happy, safe and out of trouble. But we as parents need to steer away from going overboard.

Here are some suggestions to think about when deciding on the right after school activities.

1. After school is not baby-sitting
After school activities thrive only if they are backed by sufficient parental involvement. What would a soccer match be without parents cheering their little heroes from the sidelines? Show some interest in the activity and this will encourage your child as well as make him feel nurtured and secure.

2. Research and choose
Instead of convenience being the decisive factor, find out things what interests your child. Once you select a program, get the fine print and find out what you have to contribute. Also, make sure it is not turning the whole family upside down just trying to get the kids to the class. Get organised, think ahead, and things will run more smoothly.

3. Free time
Try limiting the after school activities to 2 days a week. I like my kids to do one creative/musical activity and one physical activity. This is a good balance, does not put excess stress on the children and allows for free play time. Free time is extremely important for children, as is social interaction with children their own age. Let them get the dolls or the action figures out and use their imagination.

4. When to quit
Often, parents enrol their child in an activity to discover that he may not be the prodigy they thought he would be. Listen and watch your child, and if he is not happy doing something, try a different approach. Think about why you are enrolling him in that particular activity. Is it because you have unfulfilled interests in the activity? Let your child cultivate an interest that he enjoys, rather than one that fits in with your idea of what he should be doing. Remember, happiness and fulfilment are all that matter.


Cascia Talbert said... @ February 26, 2009 at 5:50 PM

I just found your blog on entrecard. I really enjoyed reading this post.

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