Every parent wants their child to grow and develop while they do things they enjoy. Extracurricular activities are the perfect way for children to experience new activities, challenge themselves and have fun as they learn new things. But when is the right age to introduce these new activities? In this blog, we’ll answer that question, as well as exploring all the benefits of extracurricular activities and what to consider when looking for which ones are right for your little one.
What to consider when choosing extracurricular activities
The first, and perhaps the most important thing to consider is if your child will actually enjoy a certain extracurricular activity. Consider what types of activities your child already enjoys, and what they gravitate towards when they have a choice of what to engage with. When your little one enjoys an activity, they are that much more likely to excel at it, and want to keep doing it. This should be your main guide on which extracurricular activity to choose for them.
It’s also important to try and keep what you would personally like them to do out of the equation as much as you can. Kids who experience pressure to do something are less likely to want to do it, especially if it’s not something they already enjoy doing. Although it seems counterintuitive, fun should always come first.
Don’t get downhearted if your little one doesn’t engage with the activity you’ve chosen at first. Children take a while to warm up to new experiences, especially if they require skills the child has yet to learn. Hang in there, the more they do it, the better they’ll get at it, and the more they’ll end up enjoying it. Our goal as parents is to be patient and supportive, helping them to grow into new things, while having fun of course.
What Are the Benefits of Extracurricular Activities?
The benefits of your little one being involved in extracurricular activities, reach way beyond the immediate benefit of the activity itself. In fact, these activities help to improve their academic, behavioural and psychological abilities. Here are the several benefits that the child will enjoy when they begin an extracurricular activity –
Improved physical skill
Because many extracurricular activities demand physical exertion, your child’s physical health will benefit greatly. Sports and games train muscles to perform new movements, while the aerobic requirements of that exercise will be strengthening your child’s lung capacity and stamina. Not to mention that their motor-skills, coordination and mental capacity will also improve.
Improved mental health
Today, more and more children are being overexposed to screens. Many studies have shown that screen time is significantly detrimental to a child’s wellbeing. Choosing extracurricular activities that can be played outside will mean your child can benefit from a challenging new activity in the fresh air, where their brains are free from the negative effects of screens.
Many extracurricular activities are social, where kids engage as a group or in a team. Social interaction has significant benefits for kids at that age, and you’ll find that your little one becomes more and more independent and capable, the more they’re involved in group activities.
When a child learns a new skill their self-esteem and confidence are immediately impacted. This effect extends into the rest of their lives, where they’ll now be more confident to try new things and speak their mind.
When children are happier they tend to grow and develop more quickly and more effectively. By enrolling your child in an extracurricular activity that they enjoy, that happiness will overlap into other areas of their approach to learning new things, and encourage them to take on other new information with the same joy.
What age should your child begin extracurricular activities?
When it comes to exactly what age you should start extracurricular activities, the answer will be different for each child, because their development and interests will differ. But let’s explore all the factors to consider, so you can enrol your little one into their first extracurricular activity with confidence. Of course, you don’t want to push them into something too early. Children who start extracurricular activities before they’re ready could be scared off completely and not want to engage with that activity again. At the same time, you don’t want to wait so long that your little one misses out on a fun and physically or mentally beneficial activity.
The general rule is that a 4 month-old child is usually ready to begin a parent/child activity, where they perform the activity with their parent. There are a wide range of activities like these, where children are introduced to the world of physical and mental growth through play. The next step would include a child performing the activity independent of their parent. The ideal age to begin these types of activities is between 2 to 3 years. At this age they’re beginning to establish their independence and will develop interests and abilities through each new activity. It’s important to choose an age-appropriate activity that your little one enjoys.
Another point to consider is that if your little one has just started kindergarten, it’s probably best to wait until they’re settled into the new routine and environment, before introducing extracurricular activities. You’ll usually be able to tell that they’re ready when they have less separation anxiety when you drop them off in the morning, and when you start seeing that your little one is making friends and seems happy to be at school.
We put the fun in learning
There are so many benefits for little ones starting extracurricular activities. Remember, always let your child lead you on the right activity for them, based on how much fun they’re having and how much they seem keen to engage with a specific activity.
Child’s Play early learning centres are big believers in kids learning and trying new things! Our centres’ employ play-based learning to help every child meet and achieve their developmental milestones. Our program will help your child become a smart, confident, social individual through open-ended play-based experiences and real-world opportunities. Get in touch with a member of the Child’s Play team today.