Sunday, December 25, 2011

How to find after school activities

Start off by making enquiries. Nothing can beat the power of information. Approach the school authorities first. Find out if they are offering any after school activities. Get a list of the various classes that are available in your school. In case the school does not provide any extracurricular activities for the child, approach your neighbors. Collect information about any after school programs, the quality of the courses taught and the timings etc. Also, check out some of the community resources. These may include places of worship, community centers, Museums, libraries, the YMCA, The Boys and Girls Club etc.

After you have colleted all the necessary information, discuss the various options with your child. Find out what his interests are. The best way to find out what is most suitable is to ask your child. When little children are too small, you cannot completely rely on their feedback. In this case, monitor the development of the child on a regular basis. If the child shows excessive resistance to an activity, it may be necessary to look for other options. Always consider your family's schedule when planning the extracurricular activities. If it is difficult for you to chauffeur your child, you may want to employ tutors at home or conduct some activity at home itself.

After school activities and burnout

For millions of parents around the world, the day does not end with the school bell. There are still pictures to be painted, songs to be sung and games to be played. This all adds up to keeping children happy, safe and out of trouble. But, parents have to steer away from going overboard.

After school is not baby-sitting:
After school activities thrive only if it is backed by sufficient parental involvement. What would a soccer match be without parents cheering their little heroes from the sidelines?.

Research and choose:
Instead of convenience being the decisive factor, find out things that will interest your child. Once you select a program, get the fine print and find out what you have to contribute.

Free time:
Many children attend piano classes, followed by ballet and squeeze in some time for play dates in between just before they rush home in time for bed. This rigor is too much for a child. So, go slow.

When to quit:
Often, parents enroll their child in an activity to discover that he may not be the prodigy they thought he would be. This is the time to let go. Your child may not become the next wonder-kid. But, let him cultivate an interest that he enjoys. Remember, happiness and fulfillment are all that matter.

After school activities and relationship building

After school activities are the rage of the day. With about $500 million invested in these programs and more than 10 million children attending them in America alone, the popularity of these activities cannot be overlooked. Everyone understands the need to develop new skills, gain more knowledge and keep the children safe when parents are working.

The most important factor in the success of any program is the relationship between the children participating in the program and the adult members who work with these children. Often, children may confide in an adult member who is not a teacher. This kind of emotional interaction is a must when children are struggling to make sense of the whirlpool of
emotions that assail them.

Direct contact with professionals can be an inspiring experience. Children are very much impressed by the knowledge and experience of these adults. Young people gain a lot of knowledge and experience when they deal with experienced adults and older youth who serve as teachers or mentors in these programs. These mentors are different from the teachers in the school and children are more likely to draw inspiration from them.

After school activities that are managed professionally by people who are successful in their own fields of expertise will produce children who are more enthusiastic and successful. Meaningful interaction with adults is a
learning experience in itself.

After school activities for the overweight

Research and studies show that our children are growing fater by the day. Many families all over America are struggling to keep the weight of their children within reasonable limits. As a parent, I know that it's nearly impossible for me to look into the tear-filled eyes of my son and refuse food.

So, what's the alternative? Studies show that the number one reason for obesity in children is not junk food and colas. It's actually TV. Children tend to plop themselves on the sofa and munch away happily when they are in front of the TV sets. But, once the set is off, their natural buoyancy will lead the children to do stuff and to move their body. They will then be diverted from eating.

Recreational after school activities are a must if you feel that your child is beginning to put on undesirable fat. It is better to begin these activities as early as possible. The more weight the child gains, the harder he has to work to shed it. Football, swimming, skating and Karate are just some activities he can participate in. Structured and disciplined exercise is possible only when one is put into a formal environment. That is why an overweight child simply HAS to be put into an after school program of this kind.

After school activity for the hyperactive child

ADHD refers to attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder. Most children who suffer from this disorder suffer from attention problems as well as hyperactivity. Parents of such children are well aware that inattention and hyperactivity continue throughout the day. Keeping such children busy after school hours can be as difficult as keeping them safe during the school day.

The first step while choosing the right after school activity for your child is to understand how ADHD affects him. Is your child interested in sports? Is he put off by the fierce competitiveness, or does he find it hard to get along with teammates? Does your child vocalize his feelings, or is communication a problem?

For a child suffering from ADHD, physical exercise is always beneficial. Exercise takes up the extra energy and helps to stimulate the brain. Team activities teach social skills and discipline. But, if your child shies away from team sports, you may want to look at activities like dancing, cycling, swimming or gymnastics. Martial arts not only teach techniques of self-defense but also teach self-control and patience.

If your child shows aversion to sport and shows inclination towards the fine arts, you may need to look at some other options. Acting classes are a wonderful form of creative exercise. It also provides the child with ample opportunity to develop his social skills. Music, art or dance can  help the child to keep himself busy and entertained.

In case the child is not interested in any of the above, you may want him to join a Boy Scouts club or other community oriented clubs that take up social work. Cleaning a park, putting on a show, helping out in an old age home are various activities that may pique your child's interest.

Whatever form of activity you choose, make sure that you monitor your child's progress periodically. If you feel that there is no progress, you may need to change the activity. Anything that increases your child's self-esteem is good. You may enlist the help of the coach or teacher to assess your child's development.

There are certain activities that are detrimental to a child suffering from ADHD. Computer and video games are a definite NO. Since these games need no interaction, children will feel all the more isolated. These children also find it difficult to distinguish between the good and the bad messages. They may therefore show an inclination to stick to messages that are not needed. Games that need the child to sit and wait for his turn patiently tax his patience and will not be a success.

Although you would want these children to be as near to normal as possible, understanding their needs and limits will help you select the right after school activity - one that is fulfilling, tiring as well as challenging.

After school program - recreational vs. educational

So, your child is beginning to get restless and make you restless. He has got more time than is good for him, and you are now considering after school programs - anything that will keep him busy for a few life-saving hours! Most after school activities can be broadly classified into three - recreational, educational and society-oriented. The last bit usually comes in when your child is already a bit grown up and can voice his own interests.

Educational activities aim at furthering the knowledge of your child. His general awareness, his understanding and his memory are targeted and he is given various techniques that will help him improve one or all of these. Programs such as intensive memory training and speed mathematics are educational after school activities. There are academic programs that will go over your child's homework and class work and help the child gain more in-depth knowledge in the various subjects. Thus academic programs have a definite edge over the fun and games, especially if parents feel that their child has a lot of catching up to do.

Recreational activities include sports and games, fine arts, painting etc. The main thrust here is to have fun. Of course, classes become more competitive as the child climbs up the ladder. Many sport events, competitions, stage performances etc are held to encourage the child.

When we compare the merits of the two kinds of activities, I believe that the recreational programs have more meat. Firstly, children do not enjoy learning unless they themselves feel curious about something. Most academic programs are standardized courses that are not too flexible. They have a general purpose and a well laid out methodology. After a number of hours at school, the child may feel bored. Further study may overwhelm him and make him feel frustrated. Burnout is very much a possibility here.

Recreational programs provide a welcome break from the monotony of learning and studies. The mental challenge and the physical exertion make the child feel a renewed zest and a pleasant sense of fulfillment. Group activity teaches him social skills, discipline and patience. It is a proven fact that children involved in extra curricular activities get better grades than others. Sometimes closing the textbooks and playing a game may be the best way to handle your studies.

Whatever program you choose for your child, regular evaluation is the key to success. You will have to measure the child's progress. If progress is unsatisfactory, shift your child out of the program. The child should also have the freedom to reject an activity if and when he feels bored with it. Generally, programs that combine the educational with the recreational are best suited especially for younger children. This way, children can have fun while they learn.

After school programs and discipline

How important is discipline when it comes to after school programs? Since most of the activities are recreational, does a program have to adhere to strict rules? Discipline is just as important here as it is in activities that pertain to the school. The child is sent to a program because you want him to learn more. Discipline in one form or the other is necessary to facilitate learning.

Every program should begin by laying down the rules. The supervisor or teacher should explain each rule and can thus prevent future mishaps. Misbehavior should be addressed as and when it occurs. Deal with the problem in such a manner that it causes the least disruption. It is unwise to turn a blind eye to misbehavior because it catches on like fire, and soon you will have a bunch of unruly children on your hands. Besides, however much they resist it, children like to operate within the safety net of strict guidelines and rules.

When a child misbehaves, it is mostly due to a craving for attention. A supervisor should observe the children and find out what the child wants. Talk to the child so that you can understand what he or she wants. Appropriate disciplinary measures should be taken if there are no apparent reasons for bad behavior.