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There is a lot of bad publicity surrounding how busy today’s child is. Kids do seem busier than what they were when we were younger however there are many benefits of organised activities. One significant benefit is that being a part of a group outside school can be a great way to meet new like minded friends (for you as well as your child!). Here are some common extra curricular activities: Sport – Whether it is karate or soccer, ballet or netball, encouraging your child to play a sport is a fantastic thing. Most importantly it is promoting healthy living. Other benefits include learning how to be part of a team, developing gross motor skills and sportsmanship. Music – Playing a musical instrument can be a very rewarding activity. It can be relaxing, fun, rewarding and a good way to learn commitment to a task through practice. Being a part of a musical group such as a band, orchestra or ensemble is something that many schools offer in lunchtime activities.

Art – Unfortunately in most classrooms, not enough time is spent in creative art lessons. The left brain activities tend to take up the majority of the day and the creative right part of the brain can be neglected. Most children love to draw, paint and create. Art can encourage children to have an open mind, be exposed to different cultures through study of different artists and to express themselves in another form.

Drama – Drama groups are a great way of developing a child’s confidence. Public speaking is a skill expected and assessed at school and being a part of a drama group can have many benefits. It is commonly believed that drama can help children think outside the box and develop empathy for others. REMEMBER:

  • Ensure that your child is getting enough free time, enough time to complete their homework and enough sleep!

  • Make sure that you are not living out your dreams (filled or unfulfilled) through your child

  • If your child doesn’t enjoy the activity, don’t do it

  • Be realistic about how many activities your child should be committed to and how much driving around you can do

  • It is REALLY important that you choose the teachers / organisation / group carefully. Ask around about their reputation and check that they are accredited. Just as importantly only choose a group where the person responsible for teaching your child has a good rapport with the kids in their care.

  • The activity should boost your child’s self esteem and enthusiasm for learning.

This piece was originally written for Kidspot in 2011 as part of their Bright Buddies series in conjunction with Kelloggs.

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