Our family’s experiences with after school activities
Updated: Sep 28, 2018
The thought of the bell ringing at 3:50 P.M., still gives me nightmares and I’m sure, to millions of other parents because we have to decide where to send our children Monday through Friday until we come home from work. Easy enough? No its not! Your schedule could change on quarterly basis, you don't conveniently have grandparents that can pick up your children and take them to activities and everything you decide to sign up for has a price tag on it.
Having said that, I do have to say that enrolling my kids in after school activities gives me the peace of mind that they are getting help to do their homework, promoting new interests while improving their social/physical skills. A Harvard family research project found that that high quality afterschool programs can not only improve grades in tests, but also improve self-esteem, reduce the risk of risky behavior but also improve their overall health and wellness. Now who can beat that?!
While it can be both fun and exciting for your child, to try out new classes every season, in the hope of becoming the next ‘Ronaldo’ or the next ‘Mozart’, in all likeliness they will probably pay more attention to the shoes of their new friend or be more keen to play with them after class, if your kids are like mine. :)
I remember the first few years of our kids learning Russian (me and my husband are from Ukraine and we decided early on to have them learn Russian) when we struggled with homeworks in 2 different languages, the constant reminders about speaking in Russian at home and English outside (they were only 3 when they started), but it eventually paid off and now that they are older, they speak both languages fluently and have even asked for new language classes. Who knew that you could raise polyglots easy, if you start early enough! Don't get me wrong, it's tough to juggle, but if you stick through it and over the years, you will start seeing results.
In addition academic enrichment, I am a firm believer of physical activities for kids, in order to stay fit, develop social skills and self confidence. My son loves sports (e.g. soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming), you name it. Few years ago, he was diagnosed with ADHD and due to my lack of knowledge, I freaked out and pulled him out of team activities and signed him up for private classes, because I thought he needed 1-on-1 attention for every activity. I regret making that choice, because now that he’s much older, he’s having to learn to navigate the emotional part of dealing with kids in team sports, learning to play by the rules, coping with games losses etc. Everyone's situations are different but for my son, 1-on-1 should have been a concentration in academics but not in in sports. I wish he had the opportunity to play with teammates. Developing social skills is crucial in their early ages and will benefit as they grow to their pre-teen years.
Another great example of extracurricular activity that worked for my daughter is ballet. She started ballet lessons at an early age of 3, which was more fun at that stage, but has now turned into her passion which has given my daughter grace, respect for the arts, confidence to perform on the stage and wonderful friendships with her peers.
Overall, there are other activities that I can brag about that worked for my kids (e.g. coding, karate, swimming, etc.) and other activities that didn't (e.g. music lessons, etc.) and I can go on and on. As a parent, I always want to do the right thing and make sure my child is not struggling with school curriculum in result of over scheduling. I also know that there will be a time during teen years (believe me, I am scared) where I would need cut down on some of after school activities and focus on one or two, as kids get older and their interests shift. I am only a mom of elementary school kids and will have to share my wisdom of middle school years as years go by and will always listen for advice from others.
We would love to hear from you! Tell us about your kids journey and share your parenting advice.
As always, Unleash Your Kids Interests!
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