Top 6 Activities Your Child Should be Doing After School
The fun of learning doesn’t have to stop when school does. Afterschool and holidays are equally important for your kids’ academic, artistic, and emotional growth. In fact, during the school year there are as many as 18 weekdays days off – days that they could spend enriching their lives and minds. Here are some of the best after school activities for kids to get their blood pumping and brains growing, all while having a blast:
Kids art classes are great because there’s something for nearly every age to do – whether it’s finger painting, ceramics, clay sculpture, or even just drawing. Art has relaxing effects which can help calm and focus even the most rambunctious of kids. And art classes, paradoxically enough, can help your child learn math, shapes and geometry by introducing them to the basic elements of lines, circles, and squares.
Music fosters creativity and self-expression, and strengthens brain activity in a variety of ways. Children involved in music activities (such as learning a musical instrument) are often better adjusted, with increased academic performance, ability to think creatively, emotional understanding, and emotional expression. Children involved in music typically have better memory skills than those who are not musically trained.
Sports classes have numerous lifelong benefits for kids. Studies show that participating in sports helps kids perform better in school and build self-esteem; additionally it teaches them the value of teamwork. Plus, when kids learn the value of sportsmanship and healthy competition, activities like running, jumping, throwing, scoring, and high-fiving get an extra dose of fun, keeping them coming back for more physical activity and creating healthy exercise habits for life!
Swimming classes give your kid a number of important benefits. First, swimming is full-body exercise that’s easy on the body, making it a great activity for children who are overweight, suffer from asthma, or other physical conditions that could make group sports challenging. Kids swim classes also boost children’s confidence in the water while decreasing the odds of fatal accidents when unsupervised. In fact, learning to swim is one of the best ways to prevent drowning.
As with sports and swimming classes, kids dance classes are a great way to channel their boundless energy, especially for kids who are too young to participate in sports teams or who prefer something more creative and less competitive. Dancing builds strength, flexibility, and balance, teaches children important social skills, and sparks their creativity. And because dance is such a technique-focused activity, it teaches children the values of patience and perseverance over a long period of time.
Children’s theater classes can be a great way to boost your kid’s self-esteem. The act of performing seems scary at first to some shy youngsters, but once they see how fun it is to get on stage, their self-confidence gets a huge boost! And, as with team sports, theater classes get kids playing together in ensembles, teaching them how to work through differences to find consensus and reach a common goal.
Finally, remember that finding the right afterschool class or extracurricular activity for kids is a learning experience for the entire family – pay attention to what your kids like, and if they’re older kids, then make sure you ask them what they’d like to do – they’re sure to give you plenty of ideas! Then check out our kidklass offerings and get them signed up for learning and fun.
Three Useful Good Parenting Tips: Be a Little Selfish
Popular belief says that men put their own needs first and women prioritize the needs of others. When it comes to parenting styles this becomes even more evident. But good parenting skills can actually mean putting your own needs first. Don’t believe it?
Listen: I have never met a dad who says he didn’t take a shower in 3 days because of the kids. Nope. Stay-at-home dads always figure out a way to get in that shower. Even if they have to figure out a way to buckle junior to the toilet.
I confess, I am a workaholic mom. This means I devote all my time to helping others – at work, in the community, at home – and never get time for myself. Sound familiar? I am lucky that my partner agreed to stay home with our daughters, Stoney 6 and Wiyot 3. And they are lucky, because as women they are learning to put themselves first. Their dad never misses his daily run. If the baby is sick, his solution – run with baby in the stroller because the gym daycare won’t take them. He never forgoes his special diet. Baby needs a nap but daddy just came back from run and needs fuel? Daddy eats and baby watches TV. Yes, even if it means she skips her nap and is cranky the rest of the day. But, to his credit, he has the patience to deal with grouchy babies. Why? Because he puts his mental and physical health ahead of the kids’ never ending demands.
So, here’s a quick checklist to run through the next time you feel overwhelmed because you try to do too much for work, school and the kids:
1) Think like a man
Don’t be afraid to put your own needs first! Recharging your own energy first will give you the patience you need to help your kids later. This may seem counterintuitive but it’s actually some of the best parenting advice, so long as it’s within reason. Kids can feel when Mom is overwhelmed, and Mom gets much more pleasure out of her relationship with her kids when she’s feeling grounded and relaxed. By just taking 5-10 minutes to do something simple for yourself, you can also teach your kids about the importance of prioritizing their own emotional well-being.
2) Minimize choices
By offering your kids a wealth of options of things to do, you can make it harder for them to choose and stress yourself out in the decision-making process. Make your life easier by making their choices simpler. A fussy kid can choose an activity and become immersed in it while Mom takes a break for herself much faster when the options are either painting or practicing guitar than if asked the open question, “What do you want to do now?” or being told, “go play while Mommy takes a break.”
3) Stress free doesn’t mean always saying yes
Putting your own needs first doesn’t equal permissive parenting. And saying yes too many times can actually create more stress in the long run. If kids get used to getting whatever they want so that Mom can get a little time for herself, that can create a pattern of behavior that rewards their insisting on something for you to be able to recharge. By saying no to something that falls outside of what you’re willing to do for your kids, you create authority for yourself that helps you guide and watch over them even better in the future!