Extra-curricular activities can be fun and rewarding for kids, but sometimes they bring challenges for the parents. These activities help children grow up, become more self-confident, learn new skills, and make new friends. They can also be impressive on college entrance applications, especially if the child holds offices in clubs or earns some other special recognition in the groups.
It is no wonder that mothers and fathers take pride in the activities their children do. From sports to music, there is something for everyone. The real go-getters may be engaged in extra-curricular activities every night of the week. The parents, while happy about the activities, have a difficult job of making the family continue to run smoothly. A few tips can help parents work out the details.
Limitations: Your child may be one of those children who like to get involved in every activity that comes her way. She may want to be in several activities such as music groups, a language club, debate club, cheerleading, theater, the school paper and yearbook, a sport or a fitness club. She might like out-of-school activities such as scouts or church groups. She may want to volunteer as well.
Scheduling will eliminate some overlap. After all, if two clubs meet on the same night at the same time, she cannot participate in both; but a child can still get very busy. When the child has no time to do her regular homework, seems rundown and tired, or shows signs of stress, it is time to put a stop to all the overload. Make your child choose just two or so activities to do and do well.
Family Time: Children, especially teenagers, tend to pull away from their families as they get older. They should be allowed some space to explore their own identities. However, the family deserves a chance to survive as well. You may not be able to all sit down to dinner together every night with a child in extra-curricular activities.
What you can do is insist on a special family time every week – just a few hours to be together, relax and enjoy each other’s company. Your child may seem opposed, but he may like it more than he lets on. He will remember those days fondly when he grows up.
Transportation: Do not take on all transportation by yourself. Get other parents of children in the activities to trade off on practice or meeting nights, and everyone will be fresher to attend on performance nights. If a child with a car drives your child to and from activities, make sure they come home directly after the meeting unless you agree otherwise.
Supplies and Fees: Many extra-curricular activities come with financial challenges for parents. Some clubs require the payment for dues, equipment rentals, supplies, field trips, clothing or uniforms, fundraising sales, or entry fees to contest events. Parents may begin to feel overwhelmed, especially if they are going through financially difficult times.
If you cannot pay all the money required for all the activities, you have three main choices. First, you could give the child an activity budget. Require that he finds out how much he will spend for each activity. Then, have him do a comparison of cost to value and decide which to fit in his budget.
Second, you can request assistance from the school or organization which sponsors the event. This has its drawbacks. It can be especially difficult for the child if other children find out she is getting for free the same activity on which they have to spend money. However, if you are highly motivated and there is no other way, it is an option.
Third, you could have the child earn the money for the extra-curricular activities she wants to do. Start at the beginning of the summer with a yearbook from the previous year. Have her look through it and make a list of the activities that interest her. Then, help and encourage her to find a way to make the money she will need to support the activity later. By the time fall arrives, she should be ready to finance her own activities.
High school is an exciting time when children use it to learn and explore wholesome activities. It may be difficult to manage at times, but it is definitely worth the effort. Do not just let extra-curricular activities happen to your family haphazard, take control and fit them in sensibly.