All parents face this struggle: When do you start your child in afterschool activities? How many activities do you even put them in? What if you pick the wrong activity? Just remember—as parents, we make mistakes, but we also excel at a lot of things. If you pick an activity or two, and the results are not what you or your child hoped they would be, it’s OK to bow out and pick another activity.

Some practical things to consider:

  1. Is your child interested in the activity? 
  2.  Does the schedule of the activity work with your family dynamics? When are the practices? If there are games, when are those? Can you get your child to/from the activity and still have time to do all the nighttime rituals of eating, homework and getting your child to bed on time? Think about the fact that the practices might be during the week and the games might be on the weekend. Can you commit to this? If you can’t take/pick up your child to the practices or games, is there someone else that can help you? 
  3. Can you afford the activity? Some sports/instruments/etc. can get really expensive. Is this something you can sustain? If your child is really interested in an activity but you can’t afford it, are there sponsorships or other ways to reduce the cost, so your child can participate? 
  4. How well is your child currently doing in school? If your child is stressed out all the time, not sleeping and feeling overwhelmed, adding anything else might not be a good idea. If your child appears to be bored, adding an activity might be good for him/her. 
  5. Is your child social or in need of socialization? Some activities combine alone time (practicing an instrument) with group time (playing in an orchestra). Other activities, such as soccer, may involve more of a team approach. Think about your child’s strengths and how do those strengths fit into the activity? 
  6. What if your child decides halfway through they no longer want to participate? Think about this when signing up your child for anything. Pre-teach your expectations to your child. Think about your expectations. Did you always want to learn to do something and now want your child to excel at this? Is this for you…or for your child? Is this for your child or for how it looks to society? 
  7. Does your child still have time to be a child? There is nothing wrong with being bored. In this world of instant gratification, how will your child learn patience? How will your child learn creativity if he/she is spoon-fed information or pushed to fill up every single hour of every single day? Some of the greatest advances in society came from someone who was bored or left to their own imagination. 

Ultimately, adding an activity to your child’s schedule is a decision that every parent will face, but hopefully, with some planning ahead, it will be a good experience for both you and your child. For those that would like additional support, ACH offers free counseling and skill-building classes. Please visit our website www.realhelpforreallife.org to learn more.