(Written by Pete Wise) It’s always difficult for parents to imagine their children growing up and moving out into the real world. But as difficult as it is to think about, there are many life lessons we can teach our children to prepare them for college, careers, and life in general. And by starting to teach those lessons at a young age, our children can begin to develop the necessary skills to handle difficult decisions and difficult situations.
One of the best ways to teach your children how to mature, contribute, and become successful is to involve them in extracurricular activities. Most schools offer programs that vary from sports and recreation to volunteering and leadership.
Any one of these programs can lower high-risk behavior in children, motivate them to reach higher and achieve more, as well as develop a strong confidence within themselves, all valuable attributes that will help your child later on in life.
But the reason why your child should join extracurricular activities is almost never where the debate lies. On the contrary, sometimes the debate can be with your child who might not want to join any sort of before or after school program. And if you have a child that prefers video games or television over just about anything else, this can be an especially difficult conversation to have. But instead of throwing in the towel, give a few of the pointers below a try. Your child should feel like they’re choosing a program that sounds fun to them, and the more they enjoy the activity, the more positive results it will yield.
- Get Their Friends Involved
Your children are much more inclined to join a program and enjoy themselves when their friends are involved. This isn’t necessarily peer pressure; it’s more like strength in numbers. Ask your child what activities there friends are already involved in. If there’s something that appeals to the type of life lessons you want your child to learn, then go ahead and encourage them to join in with their friends.
If there’s a program that you’re interested in having your child join and their friends are not involved with it, talk to other parents about getting their children involved. After all, the more students that are involved in a program, the more beneficial a program can be.
- Talk To Them About Their Goals
Most likely, your child’s school has so many extracurricular programs that it can be hard to choose which one is right for your child. Talk to your child about their interests and goals. Even if they’re at a young age and unsure of what they’d like to do later in life, the conversation is bound to bring up a few ideas.
If your child is still in the “astronaut” stage that so many children go through, perhaps a mathematics-centered activity is right for them. If your child is interested in arts and crafts, talk to the school about running an after school program led by the art teacher, if there isn’t one already. By involving your child in enjoyable activities that feel catered to his or her likes, interests, and goals, your child can really begin to excel.
- Pick Activities You Can Get Involved In
Getting involved with your child’s extracurricular activities can prove to be even more beneficial for your child. If your child chooses a sports-related activity, like soccer, talk to the coach about what you can do to help. Maybe coaching the goalies, keeping score during games, or even organizing team dinners.
If you are involved in your child’s extracurricular activities, it can strength your bond, you can play a bigger role in your child’s development, and you can have fun at the same time. But before you overstep a boundary, make sure your child is happy with you joining in. The last thing you want is your child to be so embarrassed that they decided to stop participating. Unfortunately, parents aren’t always “cool.”
- Look Outside Of The School
Sometimes your child’s goals or interests can’t be met by the extracurricular activities offered by his or her school. But there’s nothing to worry about. There should be plenty of programs your child can join outside of school. Look for club sports, chess clubs, music lessons, or anything else that lines up with what your child would like to do.
Or you can even pile up the activities with a few at school and a few outside of school. Giving your child more opportunities can only be beneficial and advantageous to the child, and when those opportunities are outside of school, your child can learn to socialize in new ways.
Having your child develop strong and assertive behavior is a necessity for their adult life. Encourage him or her to start developing those skills early on by involving them in extracurricular activities. By picking programs they’re interested in, your child will not only have a pleasant time, but they will also be more susceptible to the life lessons many extracurricular activities aim to teach.
* Photo Courtesy of Pinterest
Pete Wise is a copywriter working for Junior Achievement Colorado is a nonprofit specializing in the furthering of financial literacy in children in Colorado. Their after school programs help kids learn the value of money, and how to prepare for college and beyond. Volunteer today to help a child become more business savvy.