Fun after school

After-school activities benefit a child in ways that might surprise you. According to a study by

the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, children who participate in after-school programmes are more engaged in and have a better attitude about learning, perform better academically, and enjoy an increased sense of accomplishment, competence, and self-esteem. Participation also lowers children’s risk of becoming depressed, using drugs and alcohol, and experiencing other behavioural problems.

Extracurriculars let your child enjoy himself in a fun, stress-free environment, get some exercise, and make friends outside of school. If s/he shows a special talent, it’s great to nurture that ability through lessons or classes. But don’t think that an early start in anything will lead to a career — remember that most children do not grow up to be professional musicians or athletes. Pushing your child into tons of tennis lessons or dance classes in order to give him a “head start” will most likely lead to him resenting both you and the activity.

Give him/her other options and encourage other interests, so that s/he doesn’t feel an overwhelming pressure to succeed at just one thing.

How to find

Start your search at your child’s school. Ask his teacher or the principal what options are available there. It’s also important to talk to other parents about what their children are involved in and get recommendations for kid-tested classes and activities.

You can check out community resources such as:

Community centres

Places of worship


How to choose

After you have an idea of the possibilities, talk with your child about what s/he’s interested in. Give him/her some options that complement his interests — an artistic child might enjoy a ceramics class, while a boisterous one can work off energy dancing or playing a vigorous sport. Don’t overlook what might seem like unlikely matches. Shy children often enjoy expressing themselves on stage in a drama class; fidgeters can find a way to focus through martial arts. You can also target specific skills through different activities: music lessons enhance math aptitude, and team sports boost social skills. If your child will attend a daily after-school programme, try to select one that offers a variety of activities, including ones that get him/her on his/her feet, as well as a quiet area to relax and do schoolwork.