As vacations draw near, most parents are on the lookout to keep their children engaged. Finding a children’s activity center or classes for your child is not a difficult task. The options are aplenty –swimming, skating, music, karate, gymnastics, science workshops, personality development workshops. The tough part is to pick the right activity for your child. As an involved parent, how will you make the right decision? Let’s take a look at the factors that play into zeroing in on a suitable activity for your child or even a workshop for that matter.
• Age: Every activity is age specific. You may wish that your little one discovers a hobby or liking towards a sport early on. But there is an appropriate time for everything. Find out if your child is eligible for the summer camps or activities you have planned for them.
• Fees: How will you ensure that the summer workshop offers value for your money? Speak to the coach or teacher and explain the fee structure. Ask for a free trial session to see whether it is worth it.
• Reference: Speak to parents whose children have already attended the activity classes or workshop that you plan to enroll your child for. Ask for feedback and gauge if that is what you want for your child. If he or she highly recommends it then you have a good starting point.
• Commute: Dropping and picking up children from various activity classes can be time consuming for you. And it is also very tiring for the child to travel from one place to another. Look for something that minimises the commute time to and from the summer camp location.
• Aptitude: Is your child inclined towards science or would he rather spend his time on the football field. Or both? If you know your child’s preference, you are in luck. Most parents find it difficult to understand what interests their child and are confused.
Some basic research on the top four points above will help you take an informed decision on which after school activity to choose for your child. But what about the child’s aptitude? How will you know what activity your child likes? How will he/she know until they have tried it out? One way to find what is best for your child is by experimenting. Trial and error by way of offering various options to choose from.
One major disadvantage of this method is that if you always make the wrong choice, the child may lose interest in after school activities permanently and not take them seriously. Moreover, he/she ends up losing time in something that they have no proclivity towards. Imagine if the same time and effort was invested in something that he/she has the potential and inherent talent for.
It could work wonders not only as a co-curricular activity but can also chart the road ahead in their career. So do you want these activities to be counted as just hobbies or something beyond that?
What are the options?
Every child has a different predilection and bent of mind. Some children enjoy free play while some prefer organised activities. Free play consists of unplanned activities which the child plays in an arbitrary manner without supervision.
On the other hand organised activities are supervised, methodical lessons that are imparted by a professional. Each method benefits the child in its own way and there are no pros and cons associated. Free play may makes the child better at decision making and problem solving. However organised activities may encourage brain development and improve concentration of the child.
So how do you decide the activity?
Have realistic expectations from your child. Think of what you want your child to gain from the workshop or the activity. Are you looking at introducing him/her to a sport? Or do you want them to relax and have fun during vacations. Speak to your child about what he/she wants too. Present concrete options for them to pick from and discuss the benefits of each.
Sometimes parents unknowingly impose their own unfulfilled childhood dreams on their child. Remember that each individual is different. What you harbored as a passion for in your formative years may not appeal your child as much.
Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your child before taking a decision. A personality development course for children between ages 6 to 15 years is a good option to begin with. These courses usually last for 3-5 days and are a fun way to develop traits that could last a lifetime.
After you enroll your child in the summer camp or the activity you thought suited them the best, your job is half done. Yes! You still have to find out if she has the talent for it. You can find out from the child about what is being taught. Feel free to speak to the instructor on the progress. Additionally track their progress on your own. As a well-informed parent you are now capable of understanding your child’s abilities and competencies based on the activity they pursue.