It’s become the norm to crowd our kids’ schedules with everything and anything, from pottery classes, additional language courses, art camp, to extra math tutoring. We as a society seem to think that the more we expose our children to at a young age, the easier of a time they will have developing into well-formed adults. And though most types of extracurricular activities carry some kind of merit, there are some in particular which have been proven to help our kids develop life skills and have a positive effect on brain development.
- Music Lessons
When a child is exposed to music and learns to play an instrument or sing, he or she acquires more skills than just being able to read music. There is a plethora of different skills which simultaneously are working together to allow your child to learn. From motor abilities, to tuning into the sense of listening, understanding rhythm, and memorization, all of these are needed to play music. There have been many studies proving the positive correlation between musical education and math scores, language abilities, concentration levels and more. The great thing about music is that there are so many different instruments and styles that your child can choose to learn. Though classical piano is a popular choice, parents are finding guitar lessons that cover a wide variety of musical styles such as rock, pop, jazz, etc. often keep children more engaged and interested in this activity.
- Team Sports
It’s important to engage your child in some sort of physical activity, as the health benefits are enormous. However, apart from the lowered risk of childhood obesity, joining a sports team has the potential for other positive attributes. Being involved in a team means committing to a group of people, teaching early on what it means to be a member of a group and making sacrifices for the common good. Often that means juggling school work and other commitments, but instead of falling into the habit of neglecting them, nurturing self-discipline and time management. Being on a sports team exposes children to peers with similar interests, sometimes forming relationships that can last for years. Having a network like this is a part of growing up in a supportive community.
- Martial Arts
Martial arts have been a popular children’s after school activity for years, and there’s no surprise as to why. Other than being able to ward off the bullies in the school yard, practicing one of the many martial arts out there teaches kids many lessons that are difficult to learn in the classroom. Many children suffer from the inability to focus and be still, mostly due to the overstimulation that they get from technology. In martial arts, there is a lot of reflection, analysis, but also respect from oneself and for others, especially those in authority. And if you think that it’s never too early to start padding your kids’ resumes with applicable skills, how about conflict resolution, determination, patience, and learning to overcome obstacles? All of these sound catchy, and are all things that your child will develop during martial arts classes.
- Scouts or Girl Guides
Boy Scouts and Girl Guides might seem like outdated youth organizations, however, there’s a reason that they are still around. In a world inundated in modern technology, apps, GPS and more, it becomes harder and harder to understand why using a compass or memorizing Morse Code could be so important. However, after just imagining a simple scenario involving a week-long power outage, or a car accident on the side of an isolated highway is enough to get the mind working. Apart from simple survival skills, scouts and guides learn important life lessons, develop a sense of stewardship for the environment, and make priceless memories during their urban and wilderness adventures. Instill a sense of pride, honor, comradeship, discipline, and more by signing your little ones up for scouts or guides.
Choosing the right extracurricular activities might seem a little overwhelming, especially when the kids are younger. The important thing is to weigh all the benefits of your options and provide a variety of different activities throughout the years. That way, your child becomes well-rounded and has a chance to find a life-long passion that will shape his or her future forever.