There are social, physical and psychological advantages for children who participate in after-school activities. Rather than allowing kids to spend all of their leisure time parked in front of the television or playing video games, parents who encourage children to participate in activities outside of the home are aiding in their development. After-school activities can change a child's life for the better and have multiple benefits.
With the growing problem of childhood obesity, children who participate in outdoor activities and sports get the exercise they need and develop habits that can help them avoid this problem and keep themselves physically fit. Sports also encourage teamwork and fair play, teaching kids valuable lessons in cooperation and respect for others. The children develop more coordination and are building healthier habits.
Arts, music, crafts, collecting... These are all activities that encourage creativity, but also help children learn problem-solving skills and encourage their natural curiosity. Children can explore their individual talents and feel greater confidence as they discover their abilities.
In an increasingly complex world, even children can feel stress. They are expected to do well in school and can often be subject to peer pressure. Activities that take place in a no-pressure environment and are just for fun are a good way to relax — a healthy method for dealing with stress. In these group settings, kids can shed shyness and gain social skills through observation and casual interaction with other children.
Learning any new skill is an excellent way to build self-confidence. After-school activities teach specific skills, but are also an opportunity for kids to learn social skills like cooperation, negotiation and conflict resolution. Participation in these activities can subtly show them how to appropriately interact with others. They learn how to think on their feet and develop better communication skills while discovering new things they enjoy and can excel at.
Throughout our lives we need to understand and employ teamwork, and team sports help children with the concept of working together to achieve a common goal. In these activities, kids come to realize the importance of removing the focus from the individual and embracing the camaraderie of the team. They learn lifelong lessons about sportsmanship and can enjoy the excitement of competition while understanding it isn't always about winning, but about participating and giving your best effort.
How do kids juggle all the things they have to do — school, homework, family time, friendships and after-school activities? Participating in a favorite activity is for fun and helps kids learn to plan and prioritize. Basic organizational skills become good habits as kids organize their supplies and equipment ahead of time in order to be ready for the activity. Allow older kids to be responsible for their own schedules, as long as they don't overdo activities and neglect school work and family time.
Encourage your child to try a variety of after-school activities. The athletic child may find that they have a talent in music, while the science buff might excel in an art class or gain confidence playing soccer. It's good for children to be open to possibilities and allow themselves to discover new strengths and interests.
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