Let’s face it, the time your child spends outside of school is coveted by a million and one things at odds with each other. In today’s world, the average mum is hit with a barrage of choice over how to ensure her child grows up to be the most well rounded, secure, smart and loving person that every Mum wants her child to be. That means decision- making and getting the balance right between after school clubs, extra curricular lessons, time with friends, family time and of course just plain down time. It’s never an easy decision- making process and of course your child’s personality will pre-determine a lot of these answers.
But get it right and your child will be thanking you in years to come for exposing them and teaching them life’s most essential skills by getting them involved early in the right activities. You know your child best. How tired they are when they come home from school, how much stimulation they need on top of school and how filled up their weekends are with the likes of birthday parties, family time and friends’ play will influence your decisions around extra curricular activities. Not to mention your time, money and other commitments so these decisions are never easy.
With that in mind, there are at least ten activities that your child should try out at least once in their life, if not master by the time they reach adulthood. You don’t have to choose all of these at once and certainly not every child will like everything on this list but it’s broad enough that the essence of each should be explored before the child decides whether it’s right for her or him.
- Play a team sport– Like I said, not every child is going to be sporty and not every child will even like sports but what I gained in playing team sports was not about whether I was good at them or not but about learning how to be on a team. Team motivation, cooperation, playing your position, encouraging each other, listening to the coach and even losing as a team are all essential skills that will get you far in adulthood. And it’s not like there aren’t a whole lot of these on offer. If your child isn’t a good runner, try something more low key like doubles badminton, volleyball or ultimate Frisbee. There are so many new sports popping up everyday that you don’t need to feel tied down to the typical football, rugby or netball.
- Learn to swim– If you could do one thing for your child, it is to teach him/ her how to swim. Under 8’s have the highest statistics for drownings occurring in both the UK and the US. It happens so quickly. Whether you’re a family that likes to take trips to the beach or go on holiday abroad, this will save you countless headaches and hours knowing your child is competent in the water by herself. I hated going to swimming lessons growing up but my mum insisted that we all learn until we reached lifeguard level. Today, I’m not a super strong swimmer because I still don’t particularly enjoy it but I’m competent and that’s all I need. I don’t begrudge my Mum’s insistence on this- in fact, I want to thank her and tell her it’s a lesson I will pass down to my own children.
- Enrol your child in Scouts/ Girl guides/ Beavers/ Brownies– Whatever the age, these groups are invaluable for teaching your child values, making friendships, building confidence, being part of their community and about the outdoors. There may be a time when they feel like they’ve outgrown it and it’s not so cool anymore and that’s also ok. It’s nice when they’re young to feel part of something that they can wear a uniform and earn badges for good work.
- Get your child exploring the outdoors– This can be as general as you want it to be but just because you’re not into camping or hiking, it doesn’t mean your child couldn’t be. Being comfortable and appreciating the outdoors is again a gift that your child will thank you for years later. If you live in a city, this may not be so easy but structured activities can help with this. Enrol your child in a local canoeing, forest school, bird watching, or hiking group and watch his/ her appreciation for the outdoors soar.
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