By Saee Abhyankar
Parents are real life modern day superheroes. We know how to juggle it all! From doing our taxes while waiting in line for the groceries, to catching up on the news while learning how to do a waterfall braid for our daughter’s recital—we’ve all figured out all the shortcuts, the little tips and tricks that help us be the jack-of-all-trades.
But with all of our multi-tasking, we want to make sure we are still giving time to our kids and making their lives richer. Sometimes, since we aren’t around to monitor all of our kid’s activities, to constantly add insights to their daily life, or to encourage them to look at their creative side, we have to rely on others through after-school activities, camps, and friends. Hey—It takes a village right?
The trick is to find the right kind of activities that challenge and stimulate our kids in a positive way. Here are some tips on how to make a successful superhero effort to involve your super-girls and super-boys in after-school activities and summer camps.
- Have an honest conversation: The first step is to know what your kid wants! A kid who is interested in the dramatic arts is hardly going to feel at home at a baseball camp or a martial arts class. Talk to your kids and find out what they want to do with their time. You never know if the next amazing jazz dancer might be sitting bored, finding fascination tapping her toes during art lessons that she hates!
- Don’t treat extracurricular activities as burdens: Yes, I know, it is a pain to haul your kids to after-school activities after those long meetings at work or with the PTA, but don’t make them feel like they are a huge drain on you. Kids are perceptive. And some kids will definitely try to find excuses not to go if they think that makes you happy. These activities are important for our kids! Commit!
- Keep the conversation going: Ask your kids about their activities. Instead of just asking a yes/no question like, did you like it? Try asking specifics about how they felt and what part of the activity they did or didn’t enjoy. Ask what they would change to make things better. All kids have some pretty amazing insights if we take the time to listen! You never know what you might end up learning.
- Summer camps to the rescue: If a daily after-school activity cannot be fit into their schedule or yours plan out your kid’s summer with them. Summer camps are a great idea to learn new skills and make new friends in a relaxed low pressure environment.
- Trust them: This is the most important! Trust your kids to make the choice to keep or let go of something they want to do. Maybe painting just isn’t their thing! Maybe they are writers, inventors, or actors! Don’t be a pushover, but let your child do what they will be happy doing.
In short let your little superheroes dream their dreams, and use your own superhero power to help them get started. Then be inspired to fulfill your own dreams—maybe you could even take a class together. Write in with comments about ideas for after-school activities and summer camps. Which activities have been favorites for your kids, and what do your recommend others try?
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