There’s no time like the present to get your kids’ programs for fall locked and loaded. The benefits to extra-curricular programs include social, emotional, and physical development, not to mention freeing up a little time for mom and dad to run errands or kick back and relax as the kids run, dance, paint or play.
But how do you find the right balance and choose the right activity for your child and your family’s lifestyle?
Here are six questions to ask when choosing an after-school program for your kids:
1. What is your child’s personality type?
Is your child outgoing by nature? Or, are they a little more on the shy side, preferring solo activities like drawing to team sports and large group activities?
2. How much energy does your child have after school?
Pay attention to how your child acts after you pick them up from school. Some are tired and quiet at the end of the day and might prefer some low-key after-school activities like art or music lessons. On the other hand, if your child is still bursting with energy after school, maybe they need to let loose in a hockey rink, in gymnastics or in a dance class.
3. What interests your child?
You obviously want something that is educational, worth your dime and most importantly that your child actually enjoys, so ask them what they want to do or find out which activities their friends are taking. In many cases, you can do trial classes before committing to a full session – so before you start planning for their black belts, try out Karate and make sure they’re interested in channeling their inner ninja!
4. Are you overdoing it?
Avoid burnout (theirs and yours!) by choosing only one or two activities a week and, ideally, finding a place where more than one kid can do activities simultaneously. Kidville, for example, offers a wide range of creative classes for kids up to age six, making it easy for parents to enroll more than one child at once.
5. Which life skills does your child needs to work on developing?
If your child is impatient or lacks discipline, a martial arts class may be just what they need to slow down and gain focus. If you think they may be too competitive or might feel intimidated by competition, look for classes focused on fun and confidence-building, like the ones found at ViBE Dance & Fitness Studio, which are non-competitive and inclusive.
6. Where is it located?
The last thing you want to do is add more stress to your daily commute. Coordinate carpool, or pick after-school activities that take place in the school itself to avoid the panicked rush.
At the end of the day it all comes down to what will be most beneficial to your child’s development and enjoyment and what fits your lifestyle and budget. Keep these tips in mind as you search for the right program for your child.