Free time with your child

Local Clubs and Classes

As the new school year approaches, it’s time to start choosing after-school activities. Take a quick look and you will find a whole range of classes available: French, scouts, ballet, karate and chess. How do we know which ones are the best for your child, which offer value for money, and, critically, which ones they will most enjoy!

Reports show children that attend after-school programmes are the ones most likely to have regular attendance at school, better grades and higher aspirations. They’re less likely to get into trouble and are at lower risk of obesity. It is also proven that these activities provide a great opportunity for all children to develop social and leadership skills. The benefits are all there, but which, extra-curricular activities, are best for your child?

Firstly talking to your child and asking how they feel about attending after-school programmes is essential. Let them choose at least one club or activity themselves. It’s important and fun to try new things and remember switching activities is normal amongst children.

The benefits of exercise are huge, so including a sport would be a good start. Extra-curricular activities are ideal for children to explore and practice what it means to be a group leader. Brownies and Scouts offer children this opportunity. If you are stuck between choosing two activities consider the usefulness. (e.g. drum lessons might be cool, but the guitar might have a wider benefit). But of course your child really wanting to learn whatever you choose is an essential prerequisite. As some of the purchases involved can be quite expensive.

Finally, remember logistics. The afterschool programme affects you too. Try avoid signing up to too many activities which you will find yourself running to in a stressed fashion. You don’t want to go from one to the next. Your child will not have fun doing anything if they are arriving late, leaving early, and going without dinner on certain days. You are best to find ones close to home, so you and your child can walk. Doing some walking before can do your child good, providing the ‘walk’ is in a safe area.

Children also really do need to have independent days for themselves so they can have friends round and so they can play. So ensure time is built in for family dinners, watching T.V. and relaxing. Leaving some activities for the summer holiday is a good idea because this is when different interests can be tried without the pressure of school demands. Tennis is a great activity in the summer.

After-school activities can provide enrichment, adventure and variety. They can enhance a child’s knowledge and build character. But remember time at home… focused, uninterrupted time with your child every day, is just as important and is a must. Balance is the key here.

Until next time, Elisa