How To Choose Your Child's Extra-Curricular Activities ⭐

How to Choose Extra-Curricular Activities: 5 tips

For many parents, choosing extra-curricular activities can be fun or stressful. What is the right program for my child? Soccer or swimming, piano or violin, math or reading: these are just some of the popular choices facing parents. With all the available activities around, how do you choose wisely?

  1. GOALS. Determine what your goals are for each child. What do you value as a family? How do you foresee your children as adults? What do you think they need to succeed in the future? Start with a wish list then rank them by importance. Some parents may decide physical fitness will always be top of their list which usually translates to choosing a good sports program, while some may aim for mental excellence and therefore focus more on academic activities.

  2. STRENGTHS / INTERESTS. For convenience, many families opt for "one-size-fits-all" activities. Remember, however, that not all children (or brains) are the same so do take into consideration your child's talents, abilities, interests and strengths, and see how you could help enhance these while keeping your child's curiosity and interest in learning intact. For each child, make a list of his strengths, weaknesses and personal interests. The best activities would be those where your goals and your child's intersect.

  3. WEAKNESSES. Don't forget on having a plan on how to improve weaknesses. If adults still have room for growth, more so with children. Have regular conversations with your brood and involve them in the decision-making. Teach them the skill of reflection. Ask your child where they think they can improve on. Aim to make your child a stronger learner and a better person. If you notice that your child shows frustration in art, add a good arts program in her roster of activities. If you notice that your child easily forgets, or seems to be weaker in focusing and processing, consider going for an assessment with BrainRx and see if there are cognitive skill weaknesses that are the cause for any learning struggle. It's always good to know your child better. And to have a benchmark!

  4. BALANCE. According to Dr. Dorothy Justus Sluss, past president of IPA World (International Play Association) USA, for every week of intensive activity, three weeks of less structured time and activity are needed to maintain a healthy balance for children. Avoid the over-scheduling trap--make sure your child has playtime free of structure, too!

  5. LONG-TERM BENEFITS. For each extra-curricular activity your child is doing now, do you know how it impacts his development vis-a-vis your goals? There are short-term, medium-term, and long-term benefits to every activity. For example, hiring a tutor just to help your child pass a test presents a short-term benefit--he passes the test. But what are the medium-term and long-term benefits? Did he learn a new concept (medium-term)? Did his study skills improve (long-term)? There are cases where tutoring helps, but if it's just to get that grade, then we're not helping the child develop learning independence--a crucial skill to have when they grow older. Some long-term benefits you'd want children to have are: having appropriate coping skills, self-esteem, learning to work hard towards goals, perseverance/grit, social and communication skills, time-management. Choose wisely and invest in activities that are stepping stones to the long-term benefits you want for your child.

Good luck and share your thoughts with us!

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