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Real moms dish on how to choose fun activities for their daughters

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Crafting a savvy activity list

There are a million kid activities out there, so how do you know which one is right for your daughter? These real moms dish on how they choose the best of the best.

Briana Starks says she pulled her 4-year-old daughter from dance and enrolled her in karate when she said, "Mom, I want to do karate because you throw people and learn all the manners." Well, that's an easy decision.

Sometimes, though, it's a little harder to understand what your daughter wants and needs from an enriching activity. Let's face it: Time is limited, activities are expensive and children are notoriously fickle. These real moms, however, have figured out how to find the best activities for their daughters.

Consider developmental basics

Dee Hutchinson is a mom of three who believes women should think about the developmental needs of their daughters before enrolling them in an activity. She used to own a tumbling gym, and says, "3-year-old girls are a little young, but by the time girls are 4, they're so ready to tumble."

Hutchinson feels strongly about gymnastics because it's her passion, but she's hinting at the importance of activities in a child's development. Gymnastics can help kids build strong motor skills at a very young age, and it's especially good for kids who are developmentally delayed. Use your activity time to build the developmental skills you want in your daughter, like gymnastics for motor skills, a book club for reading skills or swim class for water safety.

Listen to interests

Mom Alyssa Borowiak says she knew her daughter's interest from the time she was an infant. "Ever since Zoey was an infant, she has been dancing to music and she really feels it," Borowiak explains. "She loves performing and dressing up." Each time Zoey has a decision to quit or press on, she chooses to stick with dance.

In this example, Borowiak did a great job of reading between the lines with her daughter. She noticed that her baby had rhythm in her heart, and she signed up for dance accordingly. So, what does your daughter gravitate toward, even if she's not sure what to ask for? My 3-year-old, for instance, finishes every day by asking me to go with her on a jog. Weird, I know. But this odd factoid will probably make her a soccer or basketball kid.

What about values?

It's also a great idea to enrich your daughter's life with value-based activities. Borowiak adds, "Zoey also does Girl Scouts because I think it teaches good values. And she has loved it."

Ask yourself what values shape your family, and how you want to build those values. Is it church for religious values, volunteer activities for social values, or something else? Only you can know the answer to that question, but it's worth considering.

Know your limits

Finally, mom Briana Starks knows how to stay busy — but she sees the importance of limits for her three daughters. Her oldest is in swimming, her middle child is the karate kid and her youngest is a dancer. "But all of this is tentative for the fall," reports Starks. "I have to determine whether or not my new job will be too much with my husband still a student. The girls might just need some down time with each of us."

Starks makes a valid point. After you spend time thinking about your daughter's development, interests and values, bring out your day planner to see which activities work best with your family's schedule and her need for down time. Even enriching activities aren't fun if they're crammed into a packed schedule.

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