If you are a busy mother trying to balance a hectic life, you will probably have already discovered after-school activities as a ‘guilt-fee’ way of gaining some time. Dancing, swimming, football and painting classes are all good options. But, what do our children really get out of them?
Firstly -obviously but very importantly- the children have fun, relax and release a lot of their energy. But they can also have other practical and even educational benefits. They help them control their time and learn to be organised, so they can enjoy themselves and do their homework, acquiring good study habits.
Socialisation is another advantage, as they interact with other children from outside their usual environment, helping them form relationships outside school. These activities also reinforce team work and help children acquire new principles and values, such as respect, collaboration and tolerance.
International studies, such as that by Casel (A, Social & Emotional Learning) have shown that these activities help children develop high self-esteem and may even reduce the risk of depression.
Artistic disciplines, such as music and theatre, help children acquire new ways of expressing themselves, developing their creativity and imagination. Sport activities help children improve their fitness, coordination, reflexes and strength.
Children can sometimes suffer falls or minor knocks when playing sports such as judo, football or basketball. Remember to put a Calmatopic stick or roll-on in their bag, this will promptly relieve any discomfort.
But remember that these are leisure choices, and it is important that your children decide which activities they want to do. No matter how much you want them to be a star footballer –because you love it or because of unfinished business from your childhood- there is no point if their great passion is robotics.
Children must feel comfortable and enjoy their after-school activities. They must not feel they are being forced to do them or that they are a duty: they must think of them as fun to share with friends.