Choosing That Extra Curricular Activity
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The choices endless, the gains real, and a fair possibility of wasted money. I’m talking of course about the extra curricular activity. If you’re not racing off at least one afternoon a week to get your child on time somewhere, it seems you are in the minority. Some of us are even racing off two or three afternoons a week believing we are giving our kids the edge when it comes to life. Problem is, with so many to choose from, which one is the best fit?
As kids start back at school, many of us are now thinking about that extra curricular activity. For me with three school aged children, cost is certainly in the forefront of my mind as 3 activities can easily pinch the pocket. This has certainly given me more reason to be mindful when choosing activities for my children one aged 6 and two aged 7 years. Many children by the age of 7 have been taking part in an activity for a couple of years, but I have purposefully left it till now. I believe that for Kindergarten children, kindergarten in itself is more than enough and will tire the most energetic of kids resulting in your money wasted, as they are too tired to fully participate.
So what to choose? Many of us make the mistake of asking ourselves only what skills we feel our kids need more experience with. But I believe we need to chose things we think they will be good at to experience success. While improving skills is important, kids will find doing something they are good at far more enjoyable than something they struggle with, giving them the best possible chance of continuing with the activity. If you are unsure about what they may find enjoyable, a good place to start is to involve your kids in activities that you used to do as a child.
If your children are old enough, talk to them about the options. Younger children can tend to say no or yes to everything you suggest because they don’t know any better. From around grade 2, they will have heard what their friends are involved in, and have had the opportunity to dabble in a few things at school they might wish to continue as an extra curricular activity. A perfect example here are art classes. Schools gives kids enough of an art sampling to know if they would like to pursue it outside the classroom. This also applies to a variety of activities schools introduce children to such as swimming, tennis, ball games, singing, drama, the list goes on. So think about what they enjoy at school, it can possibly lead you to a most successful extra curricular activity for your child.
Kids can quickly decide an activity is not for them and want to stop. Should you make them continue? Well I believe it depends on what you want to teach them. Do you want to teach them to finish what they start? Or do you want to teach them that you shouldn’t waste your leisure time on something you don’t enjoy? It is hard to call a right or wrong here as it comes down to your parenting beliefs. If you’re not one to let your child quit until they have completed steps a b and c, then I strongly urge you to choose carefully. Having to drag children to an activity every week is not fun for anyone. To further help you make an informed decision, I have some additional points for you to think about ,along with a rundown of costs for the more popular activities.
Things to consider when deciding
- What are the costs upfront, hidden, and then ongoing. What’s your budget? While some activities can be only a few dollars a week, some can really hit your pocket.
- What kind of experience do you want your child to have? Social, creative, competitive, relaxing, energy releasing? Once you decide this, you’re half way there.
- What do you feel they would enjoy and be good at, and what type of activity suits your child’s personality?
- Do they know anyone else attending? Kids can tend to be more interested if their friends are participating.
- Can you see yourself trudging about a muddy field on those cold wet days, or does it bother you that parents may not be allowed to sit in to watch the ballet lesson? Every activity will have that thing that bugs you, it’s a matter of can you put up with it.
- Are siblings already participating in other activities? Travelling to numerous destinations can become tiresome.
- Educate yourself before diving in. Speak to other mums who’s kids do that activity, visit the website, see the premises, call and speak to the teacher or coach. All these will help you to make a more informed decision.
Below are costs associated with some of the most popular extra curricular activities. This however does not include cost of uniforms, registration and equipment which can add up to a considerable amount and is worth investigating before you sign up.
Piano – around $30 for half an hour
Swimming – around $15 to $20 per session
Art – around $20 per session
Gymnastics – starts from around $15 per session
Tennis – from around $33 for a private lesson
Ballet – around $15 a session. Less for a “Mummy & Me” class
Soccer – around $150 a season
Martial Arts – around $10 a class
Most activities will ask you to pay by the term but with others it’s a pay as you go. These can be particularly good if you want your child to simply have a go to see if they like it. Some will offer a free lesson/class for your child to try.
Most importantly, remember the activity is for them. This of course can be difficult to remember when your child is hounding you about taking those drum lessons! My advice, purchase ear muffs and smile.