18th Sep 2019 LOVE IT

After school activities

Back to school means choosing after school activities.  See my guide below for the hidden benefits of the more popular ones:

It’s back to school and back to planned schedules, homework and extra-curricular activities. Each of my children is very different and I used to spend a lot of time thinking about what activities would suit each one and what would be useful to help them to learn valuable life skills.

Creativity is so important to the development of young minds and after school activities are another way to provide a creative outlet for your kids.  Here’s my guide to engaging after school activities which kids will enjoy and learn life skills along the way:

Sports:

There are obvious pros to having your child play in a sports team. Not only is it good for their fitness, it’s also a long-term commitment that requires dedication.  Sport teaches your child how to work in a team, along with strategy and negotiation, how to outwit their opponents and predict upcoming moves. It does this in a safe environment where the worst outcome is a bruised ego. They will also learn how to be competitive and win or lose with tact and dignity – all skills that will be helpful in life in terms of work, friendship and more. On a more lighthearted note, it’s also fun for your child to play a game they enjoy with their friends!

 

Martial Arts:

I guess you could call martial arts another type of sport with similar pros to the ones above, but martial arts are mainly about discipline, self-respect and setting very clear goals. In today’s world, where everything is available to us instantly, marital arts provide a calming and structured environment. A key component is respecting your instructor and doing as you are told when you are told. This understanding and respect translates into a child’s everyday life, allowing them to treat everyone with the same respect. It is also gratifying as they receive a new belt as they advance in their chosen art.

 

Yoga and Meditation:

Yoga and meditation are ancient activities designed to calm the mind and balance the mind and body. Other benefits include increased focus, flexibility and breath-work.  Children are often naturally very flexible so yoga can be fun and experimental whilst also providing calm and restoring the body.  When children (and adults) are stressed, their minds don’t function properly and with the increased pressures that kids now experience, an hour or two a week of yoga or meditation could be invaluable to their mental state.   The disciplines of yoga are also great life lessons that will give your kids long-lasting skills.

 

Music:

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato.  Music is a huge part of all of our lives without really realizing it. Having your child pick an instrument they like and committing to learning the grades is not only a show of dedication and commitment to their art but provides them with a skill for life.  Singing or being part of a choir or band is great fun and enables children to learn team skills whilst being creative.  Music and learning an instrument can help develop a child’s language skills as it trains the same part of the brain. It has also been proven that playing an instrument can improve a child’s IQ and test scores as they are able to look at things from a different perspective. A study in 2014 done by Gaab and Harvard University also found that children who played an instrument exhibited higher levels of cognitive flexibility, a more proficient working memory and the ability to process things faster. All in all, good reasons to get your children started!

Art:

Art is a common after school activity and is loved by many adults and children alike… It enables them to create anything at all that comes into their mind – be it painting, sculpting, drawing or potting… But what are the real benefits? The hands-on nature of art actually helps develop the fine motor skills of young children – when holding a brush or pencil they are able to immediately see the results adding a sense of gratification and freedom. When creating something, children are able to analyze their work, problem solve and develop the piece, all part of enabling them to make their own decisions.  Art can also allow a child to take risks in a safe and unjudgmental environment and to build confidence, relax and have fun.