How to Choose the Right Extracurricular Activity for your Child

How to Choose the Right Extracurricular Activity for your Child

Extracurricular engagements are a great way of enriching your child’s educational experience. According to one study, involvement in extracurricular activities directly correlates to improved academic, psychological, and behavioral function. Moreover, it helps children pick up valuable skills such as time management and organisation, accountability, and teamwork from a young age. Extracurricular activities can also allow children to explore and develop their interests and talents, which bolsters self-esteem and confidence. On the flip side, if children feel forced into a particular activity or do not enjoy it, they can end up feeling deeply resentful and unhappy. So it’s important that you spend some time choosing the most suitable activity for your child. Here are some important aspects to consider:

Is my child ready for an extracurricular engagement?

Extracurricular activities exist for almost all ages but just because your child is eligible to join a program does not mean you should enrol him/her.

Starting school for the first time can put some temporary stress on children and every child copes with this in a different way. Many kids will be able to adjust after a few days or weeks to the demands placed upon them in their new setting, but some may take longer. Give your child some time to get used to their routine and see how they are coping with it. Look for the following indicators of good adjustment that could mean your child is ready to further their learning through extracurriculars:

  • Your child is mostly in a positive mood with few temper tantrums or outbursts
  • Your child has established a regular sleep and wake routine that s/he is able to follow without any major problems
  • Your child has made friends at school and enjoys going to school
  • Your child is showing satisfactory academic progress and overall growth

On the other hand, if your child displays the following behaviour patterns, they may need some more support and time before they are ready for extracurricular engagements:

  • Persistent separation anxiety that affects their performance at school
  • Difficulty or unwillingness to make friends or get along with other children
  • Struggles with regular learning engagements

How many activities should my child pursue?

As part of our Explore@Todden program, we offer two options:

  • Explore Select, in which your child can deeply engage with specific activities that you choose, OR
  • Explore Enrich, in which your child is exposed to the full range of activities we have on offer, following a set schedule every week.

When deciding which of these to opt for, consider your child’s interests and inclinations. If your child is confused or too young to have an opinion of what they would like to pursue, base your decision on the kinds of activities that they already show interest in.

If opting for the Explore Select program, please don’t overwhelm your child with too many activities – it is always better start with just one and see how they work with it. Make sure your child has adequate time left over for free play at home. If a child becomes overwhelmed with too many activities, they may get too tired and begin to do poorly at school. Don’t ever put too much on your child’s plate – they have their whole life ahead of them to be busy!

Should I pick an individual or group activity?

Both individual and group activities have their own set of benefits for children. When learning something individually, such as a language or music, children get more personalised attention which bolsters their self-esteem and keeps the learning process distraction free. On the other hand, group engagements like sports and theatre teach valuable lessons about teamwork which are essential for future success. It’s a good idea to consult your child about what activity they are most interested in pursuing, for at the end of the day, the most important thing is that they enjoy themselves!

Please remember that if a child is continuously pressed into participating in an activity that they don’t enjoy or feel comfortable with, they can feel deeply resentful toward both their parents and teachers. This may affect their overall mood and even their performance at school, so make it a priority to respect your child’s likes and dislikes. If they don’t like sports, don’t push them into it just because you want them to stay fit or it’s what all their friends are doing!

Another important thing to keep in mind is that your child is not a mini version of you, so please don’t try to live vicariously through him/her. Give preference to what they want to do instead of what you always wanted to do.

Lastly, value the fact that your child is unique and you need to give him/her the time, space, and freedom to develop their individual personality. Never give into any pressure from other parents or family members to enrol in a particular activity if it’s not right for your child.

Click here to read more about and register for the Explore@Todden program. 

“Parents, first and foremost, it is important to… understand and recognise the activities your child is naturally gravitating towards. It’s important also to ensure that your child likes what he or she is doing. I believe in exposing children to as many hobbies and extracurricular activities as possible.”

– Viswanathan Anand