Choosing the best Extracurricular Activity for your Kid
by Mr Yellow
Each parent wants the best for his or her child. Regardless of the success you've had in life, you want your kids to accomplish every possible milestone. He may not be the next Usain Bolt or the future Andrea Bocelli; she may not follow the steps of Madonna or Serena Williams. Nevertheless you want your kids to be successful and to discover their own unique passions.
Although the back to school season is already as crazy as it can get, and the work schedule becomes a shambles during this time, doing some research on possible after-school activities is one thing you shouldn't neglect as parents, even though making such a decision is easier said than done. The range of activity options is boundless and there is more awareness on the benefits related to after-school activities, putting our kids in a favourable position than that of our ancestors.
Why are Extracurricular Activities Beneficial for Kids?
The local spectrum of after-school activities is far-reaching, but despite their varying physical and psychological traits, there are certain benefits which are prevalent throughout most activities. Here are some benefits your kid will experience with extracurricular pursuits:
- A boost in academic performance: Your child will benefit from healthier study habits, greater focus, improved school behaviour, more alertness, and heightened engagement.
- A superior sense of confidence and self-esteem: Participating in an after-school activity and pursuing a talent, will help instil confidence and motivation in all areas of life, as your kids will have a goal to work towards.
- Passion discovery: Kids would be able to explore and try out new experiences which may transform into life-long passions. Through after-school activities they can determine what they like and what they don't like doing; they'll be exposed to new fields which are not found in standard school programs. The earlier they discover their passion, the more they'll be able to master it in the long run, and the lower the chances they'll set bad habits in motion.
- An active lifestyle: Activities will help reduce screen-time and keep obesity at bay.
- Enriched psychological and emotional wellbeing: After-school experiences will help reduce emotional stress and tension, enhance your child's development and personality, and sleep better. As a result, kids will lead a healthier and happier lifestyle.
- Sharpened set of skills: Leadership, teamwork, listening, decision-making, and communication, are such skills which are heightened with extracurricular activities.
- Social connections: Apart from friends made in the classroom, your kids will meet other kids who share their passions, and they'll be able to nurture their social skills.
- Higher employability: Activities will shape your kid's character and skill-set, heightening employability, and facilitating future job searches.
How Can You Choose the Most Suitable Extracurricular Activities for your Kids?
From traditional to new-fashioned activities, team and individual pursuits, physical or verbal interests, the range of fun activities has no limits, and narrowing down the options is no easy feat. Here are the factors you need to consider if you don't want to find yourself cancelling lessons and begging for refunds after the first week:
Consider your child's needs:
- Communicate with your child: What you think is best for your kids, may actually be what you think is best for you. Listen, and don't impose! Refrain from forcing your own dreams on your kids, and instead, attempt to identify their own dreams and help them accomplish them. Discuss all the viable options, evaluate the pros and cons, and let them decide which activities they'd like to try out. Let them be responsible for their decision.
- Consider his interests: What are his favourite subjects? How does he like to spend his free time?
- Evaluate his strengths and weaknesses: Should the activity you choose help to amplify his strengths or refine his weaknesses? Ideally, it would do both. Otherwise select two activities which can tackle both areas.
- Take your child's character into account: Is he shy, or does he integrate well with other kids? This will determine whether he feels comfortable in a team or whether he'd prefer a solo activity. Will the activity consist of teaching lessons, or will there be performances and recitals throughout the term?
- What's the aim of the activity? Do you want your kids to make new friends? Opt for team activities. Do they need a self-esteem boost? Choose an activity which will enhance their strengths. In need of exercise? Select an active pursuit.
- Does your kid need a therapeutic activity? If he's gaining weight, the activity needs to involve physical activity. If he's not too vocal, consider enrolling him to an activity where he's required to speak up.
- Examine the instructor's qualifications: Are the coaches qualified in their work? This would enable them to provide a more authentic experience to your kids.
But also consider your needs as a parent:
- Bear in mind your daily schedules: Who will be the designated driver? Will you need to take time off work to drop off and pick up your kids? Can you organise car pooling with other parents? What type of weekly commitment will the activity require to fulfil its purpose? Make sure it doesn't impinge on family and homework time.
- How much will you need to travel? Gauge the time needed to travel to the location in question and back home.
- Scrutinise costs comprehensively: Certain sports and activities tend to have a more expensive price tag tied to them. Others may require equipment rental or buying. Does the activity require private lessons? If so, you'd best do your calculations well before discussing with your child.
- Be realistic: Does your apartment lack sound insulation? Tick drums lessons off the list. Do you live in a compact space? Disregard gymnastics, as your kid wouldn't be able to practise manoeuvres at home.
- Do your research: Speak to teachers and other parents, and explore online platforms such as Yellow to pinpoint activities which are available in the community, and extracurricular activities offered on school premises.
Are your Kids Confounded with the Vast Range of Extracurricular Activities?
Certain kids, especially youngsters, may find it hard to determine what they actually like. Don't concern yourself. Take your kids to trial classes to help them unlock their uncertainties. Childhood is the time for exploration, so open up as many options as possible to give your kids the chance to explore their inner capabilities.
Avoid enrolling them into specific sectors: take them to music lessons first, rather than guitar lessons; art sessions before pottery lessons. This way they'll be able to explore further options.
How Many Activities should a Child be Enrolled in?
Tired of driving from one activity to another? Chances are your kid is tired as well, so cut back on activities. Are your kids spending too much time lounging on the sofa? Book more activities. Whether they're bored or overwhelmed, both feelings will have a negative influence on your child's development. Furthermore, reassess your kids' situations each term to make sure eating, sleeping, homework, and family times aren't impaired. Your kid will be better-off focusing on one activity and mastering it, rather than attempting to undertake activities galore and putting no effort into them.
What if your Child gets Bored and Dissatisfied with the Extracurricular Activity?
Your child may come home one day, distressed, and with a sense of aloofness. What has led him to lose all interest and detach himself from the after-school activity? Why does he want to quit at this point in time? One of the below factors might be true:
- He's getting bullied
- He can't keep up with the number of activities, making him tired all the time
- Fear of being on stage
- Activity is too difficult, or too easy
- All his friends are participating in another activity
- He's being left on the sidelines, and not participating as much as others
Try and pinpoint the underlying factor behind his disengagement, and see if it can be resolved by speaking to the trainer or tutor in question. If need be, go watch a couple of sessions to observe your child's behaviour and his engagement with other kids.
However, do keep in mind that he may just doesn't like the activity anymore. What sparked his passion last year, may instil a sense of resentment today. Kids will change, as will their interests. He may have been playing tennis ardently last year, but keen on painting this year. Do encourage your kids throughout this exploration phase in their life.
On the other hand, make sure that your kid's withdrawal won't have any huge negative impacts. Will his team suffer in competitions coming up ahead? Will you get a refund? Paying for one semester at a time is the way forward.
What Range of Extracurricular Activities can you Choose From?
From sports, arts and crafts, drama, singing, dancing, cookery and scouts, Malta is swarming with clubs, coaches, tutors, and instructors specialising in various sectors. Here are some activities you can consider for your kids, together with their respective benefits:
Teaming up with a Sports Club
According to the 2018 WHO European Health Report, 28.9% of Maltese and 35% of adolescents are obese, putting us as the second country in Europe with the highest obesity rate. Thus, teaming up your kid with a sports club from a young age will definitely be fruitful.
Football isn't the only physical activity you can introduce your child to. Discover the range of basketball, swimming, gymnastics, hockey, table tennis, tennis, and water polo clubs. Check out the list of sports clubs in Malta to discover other sports types including handball, volleyball, squash, chess, badminton, rugby and netball.
Pros of Sports Activities
- Kids will burn energy: This will make them tired, forcing them to get an early sleep
- Superior confidence, motivation, and self-esteem, encouraging better performance in all sectors of life
- Can battle a sedentary lifestyle: Kids between 6-17 years of age need at least an hour of moderate to intense physical activity according to health departments around the world. If you're active as a child, there are higher chances you'll lead an active lifestyle as an adult
- Boost in leadership, teamwork, discipline, commitment and communication skills, cognitive, motor and social skills
- Greater focus levels
- Improved fitness and stamina
- Behavioural issues are tackled effectively
Joining a Drama, Singing or Dancing School
The range of drama schools, music academies, band clubs, and dance institutions is diverse and heterogeneous. Whether your child is into piano lessons or trombone classes, ballet or hip hop, there is a suitable class for everyone.
Pros of Drama, Singing and Dancing Activities
- Experience in performing in front of an audience
- Better coordination, focus, and memory
- Improved social skills
- Sharpened creativity
- Boost in IQ levels
- Enhanced psychological well-being
- Improved immune system
- Finer alertness levels
- Active body and mind
- Enhanced memory
- Superior strength and flexibility levels
- Better posture and balance
- Reduced stress levels
- Self esteem boost
- Encourages creativity
- Heightened perspective to life
- Improved cooperation and teamwork skills
- Strengthened verbal and non-verbal communication
- Performing in front of people leads to a confidence boost
- Inspires creativity
- More focus
- Fortified memory
- Self-discipline boost
- Helps your kid step out of his comfort zone
Signing Up for an Arts & Crafts Course
Are your kids more the artsy type? Take a look at the art schools and craft courses in Malta and Gozo and help them master their creative touch and transfer their ideas, observations, and feelings onto paper or any other medium.
Pros of Arts & Crafts Activities
- Kids have fun getting messy
- Enhanced motor skills, visual and spatial skills
- Improved coordination and decision-making
- Kids can express themselves using different mediums
- Can spark your kid's imagination
- Confidence boost
- Increase your kid's ability to think outside the box, enabling him to solve problems more effectively
- Amplified neural skills: Through art, and the different techniques and materials used, your kids will be able to use all their senses more effectively
Getting into a Cookery Class
Do your kids love experimenting with flavours? Is cooking time their favourite time of the day? Enrol them into a cookery class to help them gain the title of master chef in your household.
Pros of Cookery Activities
- Kids would be encouraged to endorse a healthy lifestyle
- Cooking will require your kid to practise other skills, such as calculating, following instructions, planning, precision cooking and teamwork
- Will give your kids a sense of accomplishment and empowerment
- Kids will learn about foreign cultures and cultural dishes
- Cookery gives kids a sense of responsibility in relation to cleaning, safety, allergies and etiquette
- The kitchen can kindle your kids' creativity
Attending a Language Class
Are your kids fascinated with languages, their roots and their structures? Explore the number of language schools which can open up intriguing doors for your savvy child.
Pros of Language Activities
- The earlier your kids start learning a foreign language, the easier it is to grasp the language's pronunciation and, in turn, to become more fluent.
- A new language boosts the brain's processing ability and has a positive impact on your kid's cognitive development, even preventing the risks of dementia and other diseases.
- Your kid will have a competitive advantage when applying for jobs in the future. More and more jobs will require fluency in multiple languages in this global world we're living in.
- Stronger cognitive abilities: multi-tasking, problem-solving and communication skills
- Multi-cultural approach to life: Your kid would be willing to speak to more people and maintain friendships across all continents.
- Better understanding of the native language
- Will enhance their creative aspect
- Communication becomes easier when travelling, leading to more enriching experiences
Joining a Martial arts class
Several kids are fascinated with the idea of being able to fight off bullies and villains with only a few drops of sweat. It's as alluring as it can get, and kids want to learn all that is required to achieve this. Discover the diverse martial arts classes taught locally.
Pros of Martial Arts Classes
- Self-discipline boost
- Keep body and mind active
- It's the sport which teaches respect at its best
- Self-esteem push
- Your kid will learn how to resolve conflict through non-violent means
- Heightened concentration
- Resilience boost
- They consist of a full-body workout which embellishes strength, endurance, stamina, and fitness
- More spatial awareness
- Improved hand-eye coordination
- Stress reduction
Teaming up with a Scouts Association
Around since the 20th century, scouts and girl guides groups are a popular extracurricular activity amongst kids and adults alike. Found in many localities around Malta and Gozo, it's both a convenient and dynamic activity you can consider for your kids.
Pros of Scouts and Girl Guides
- They organise an assortment of activities and events
- Independence is encouraged throughout
- Kids will learn how to appreciate nature's beauty
- Fitness levels are maintained through organised treks and other physical tasks
- Life hacks are taught from a young age
- Improved skill-set: problem-solving, conflict resolution, leadership, persistence, motivation, respect and cooperation skills are enhanced
- Self-confidence boost
- Friendships are nurtured
Still sorting out your back to school routine? Do make time for extracurricular activities which are age-appropriate, and which adhere to your kids' strengths and interests. They will help your kids nurture friendships, gain confidence, remain active, cultivate new skills, improve their behaviour, and discover new abilities, which may transform into a life passion in the future. Encourage your kids to experience different activities, and do remember that it's not the end of the world if they try out a different activity each and every year. They have a lifetime ahead of them to specialise, so embolden them to switch on explorer mode while they're still young.
Start exploring the number of sports clubs in Malta and Gozo, just in time for the new term.
Keep on discovering local with Yellow.