Are you concerned about the lack of after school activities at your child’s school? Are you worried that he or she is being deprived of much extra knowledge and stimulation that these programs can provide? There are some things you can do.
An after school activity does not mean that it needs to happen at school or in a school environment. There are lost of things you can do to promote your child’s development physically, academically, and socially. It doesn’t need to be a formal program; in fact, many children involved in formal programs end up overscheduled and frustrated.
Because school is the highest priority—and much time is spend out of school developing those skills taught during the day through homework and outside preparation. Often your child will develop special interests and preferences for academic subjects. If so, you can usually find a program nearby in the community or in a college that will offer extra stimulation and activity in that subject. This helps encourage independent learning and self-motivation, something that a school can’t teach to any appreciable degree.
If the child needs more social activity, consider a club of some kind, like a math club or reading club. Local libraries and theaters often have such clubs, and sometimes the child’s school will offer them. Many of these clubs are parent-child oriented and this is often an opportunity for both to spend more time together. If you are interested in this and there are none nearby you—start one!
Communities are also good resources for organized activities for youth. More children than ever are becoming concerned about social issues, and they find a good deal of satisfaction helping others. They also get a fist-hand account of suffering, and it helps build empathy in them and opens their eyes to the real pain of others.
If it’s physical activity you’re looking for, consider dance classes or a gym that offers various activities. Swimming and basketball are also big these days, as are racquet sports. If you are already involved in a sport or physical activity, bring your child along whenever possible to help pique some interest; however, be careful not to be preachy. Most of the time children reject this tactic. Instead, let them bring friends if they want to try it.
The activity does not necessarily need to be organized, just supervised. Your local YMCA or rec center may offer an open gym for teens where your child can go for two hours and participate in any one of a host of activities supervised by an employee of the gym (for safety). Sometimes you can even involve your child in the everyday activites of maintaining a household, making him or her feel like a more important part of the family. This will benefit all concerned.
For more info about kids and parenting- check out Dean's childrens summer camps website