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Which Extra-Curricular Activities are Best for Your Child?

Although it’s still technically winter, I have been seeing flyers all over recently for the spring “crop” of extra-curricular activities: Little League, Scouts, soccer camps, and more.  Extra-curricular activities help mold children into the balanced, well-rounded adults that we all want to raise, but how do you choose which activities are best for your particular child?

In Brooke Tasovac’s article “Choosing extra-curricular activities for your children”, she lists the various categories of extra-curricular activities, such as:

  • Team Sports – ranging from contact to non-contact and include both indoor and outdoor sports (i.e. soccer, volleyball, football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, hockey)
  • Non-team sports – based around individual performance, but oftentimes played with a group of people so there is opportunity for social interaction (i.e. golf, tennis, skiing, martial arts, gymnastics, swimming)
  • Creative activities – all art, crafting, music, singing, drama, theatre, photography, band, orchestra, etc.
  • Adventure/outdoor activities – Scouts, Cubs, Brownies, etc.
  • Academic or school-related activities – debate club, chess, languages, math team, etc.
  • Youth, church, and community service groups – involve peer interaction by getting involved in the local community through volunteer work; often have retreats and camps to encourage bonding

Tasovac stresses that allowing your child to select their own extra-curricular activities (or at least take part in the process), based on their interests and personality type, rather than having ones selected for them by their parents or being persuaded by others to do particular ones is key for the child’s enjoyment of the activities.  Additionally, keeping a child enrolled in an activity that they are not enjoying or not good at may negatively impact the child’s self-esteem.  If a child is unsure or is usually inclined to start activities but not finish them, a good idea may be to have the child participate in short bursts of activity – like spring break camp – or having a trial run of the activity before putting down a lot of money for the whole thing (like buying a new French horn).  Finally, when parents are involved with the activities – either through volunteering, car pooling, or fundraising – it can be helpful for shy children and help children stay committed and interested in the long term.  Just make sure your child is truly interested for themselves, and not for you!

Tasovac also addresses the question of how many extra-curricular activities a child should participate in, and suggests that more than two or three at a time can lead to an exhausted, burnt-out child, probably with exhausted, burnt-out parents (not to mention it’s expensive!)  Children also need to have time to focus on their schoolwork, their family life, their friends, and unstructured play, in order to thrive.  And how do you balance it if you have more than one child participating in extra-curricular activities?  Tasovac suggests asking the children to pick their favorite and to build the schedule around those activities.

One of the key points to Tasovac’s article is the idea of allowing your child to select their activities based on their interests and personality type.  The Kidtelligent Assessment can help!  This assessment not only gives you indispensable insight into your child’s unique personality, it also offers parenting suggestions  and recommendations based on your child’s personality traits – including what sports or activities would be a good match for your child.  To learn more about Kidtelligent, go to www.kidtelligent.com, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Kidtelligent.

Sarah is a guest mom writer for Kidtelligent. If you are interested in submitting an article to be shared on the Kidtelligent Blog and Facebook please email us at info@kidtelligent.com