Kids and extracurricular activities go hand in hand, and you want to make sure you pick the right ones for your children. Kids tend to want to do it all, but time and our pocketbooks limit the options.
As a mom of four, we are seeing how important it is to pick the right activities for your kids. My extroverted daughter wants to do it all, especially once her friends try something too, but that isn't possible. So, we have developed a set of questions and things to consider when picking the right activities.
Remember, extracurricular activities are extra, BUT they supplement your child's education. Homeschooled kids benefit from them as much as traditionally schooled kids.
Consider Your Child's Interests
Kids often want to do what their friends are doing. So, when Lucy starts to take art lessons, your daughter may want to try as well. That sounds great, but does your child like art?
Often times, their desire for other activities are spurred by noticing what friends and family members are doing. Naturally, they want to try too, but that's not possible for everything.
Ideally, the activities will help foster your child's current interests. In some cases, you'll see the opposite take place, and those are the times when its best to remove your child from the activity. For example, my daughter loved playing soccer at home with her brothers and dad. However, upon joining a team, she discovered she didn't want to participate and found the sport less enjoyable =.
Will It Fit in With Our Family?
You have to consider your family dynamics. Do you have enough time to fit it in your schedule? Will it leave enough time for you to have dinner together and not feel stressed?
Sometimes, you just have to say no because it's not possible in this season of life. That's okay too!
Can We Afford It?
Obviously, the cost should always be a factor. Most people aren't made of money, so you have to carefully balance your budget to ensure it doesn't stress out your family too much. It may only seem like a small cost until each child wants to try a new lesson! The next thing you know, your schedule is stretched and you are cutting it too close with bills!
How Will This Benefit My Child?
Perhaps most importantly, you should consider how the activity will benefit your child. The most obvious answer is whatever the class or sport is teaching your child, but try to look deeper.
Taking horsemanship lessons teach anatomy and care for another animal. Your child will learn responsibility. Taking art lessons will further your child's interest in different mediums, but the lessons also encourage creativity and critical thinking.
Team sports help your kids learn how to play together and practice good sportsmanship. Kids learn how to lose, and that's something that they need to practice. They learn dedication and the value of investing time and energy into practicing.
Is My Child Ready for This Commitment?
Most activities don't stop when the child leaves the lesson or field. These skills should be honed and refined at home, on their own time. That's something to consider because your child will need to devote their personal time to this particular skill.
My daughter started piano lessons at 7 years old. She quickly found she loved the lessons, but practicing was a true drag. She couldn't stand to be tied to a piano at home when she wanted to play. At that time in her life, the commitment was hard.
She continued with the lessons, and now practicing is one of her favorite hobbies. However, we should have waited a year and tried again to see if her desire to work on her new skill carried on after the weekly lessons finished.
Some families participate in a lot of extracurricular activities, and other join none. There is no black and white answer. You have to find what works for your child and for your family! Ponder these questions before enrolling your child again.