School is back in session—and so are after-school activities! From soccer to singing to scouting, there’s certainly no shortage of kid-centric extracurricular programs where you can spend your time and hard-earned cash. But how do you know which ones are right for your kid? We’re here to help you find out!
Gauge Their Interests
The best activity for your kid is the one they’re interested in. Older kids are likely to be drawn to what their friends are trying. Toddlers and younger kids may have trouble articulating what they want to try, but there are sure to be clues to look out for. Are they constantly running around? Maybe soccer would be a good fit. Do they like to bop along to the radio in the car? Perhaps they’d appreciate a music class.
Consider Their Personality
Have a shy kid who hides behind mama when meeting new people? An acting class probably isn’t the best idea. As tempting as it can be to use activities to help break kids out of their shell, it’s best to stick with classes that align with a kid’s authentic spirit. The more comfortable they are, the more confident they’ll be—which will hopefully lead to a willingness to try new things later on.
Independent-minded kids tend to enjoy individual sports, such as gymnastics, tennis, dance or martial arts. Non-sport options could include private lessons in music or art. Benefits of these types of activities include building self-esteem, motor skills and attention/focus.
Socially-minded kids often prefer the camaraderie of team sports, such as soccer, basketball or hockey. Non-sport options could include scouting troops or theater arts. These types of activities emphasize teamwork, communication and discipline.
Take Advantage of Free Trial Classes
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, see if you can “try before you buy” with a free trial class. Many program facilitators understand that kids can be finicky creatures, with a passion for tap one day and taekwondo the next. And it’s a good idea to decide as a family before the program starts whether you’ll let your kiddo quit before the session is over if they don’t enjoy it or ask them to stick it out to the end to honor their commitment.
Think About Your Schedule
How many activities are too many? Well, that depends on the family and the child. Some kids have the interest and energy to take a bunch of different classes while others may feel overscheduled and stressed. Budget and work timetables can also be a factor. Only you can know what’s right for your family, so trust your gut and enjoy the ride!