Choosing the perfect extra curricular programs this fall- Lauren McKinley Renzetti

Of course we want what is best for our children. We want to give them opportunities that we did not have. One thing we can offer them is extra circular opportunities for learning that they don’t get in today’s school system is something money  and a little research , can buy.   It is important to include your child and what you have observed of their personality and their desires in this process. Ask them what they want to try. Off them ideas of what is out there.  The younger the child the more willing they are and of course the more there is out there.

Programs are always targeted towards certain age groups. Stick with your child’s age for several reasons: It is important your child is with their peer group doing things that are age appropriate so they have more likelihood of making new friends and they can actually succeed at the goals of that program. You do nobody any favours thinking your child is brilliant and should go into an older age group. They will build confidence with their successes and class size ratios are related to their age and need for help or supervision.  Younger children 3-5’s tend to do things very quickly so they tend to cycle through a lot more programming or projects. Older children tend to want more in depth programs, that take longer and have a different set of intentions and skill set that just would not interest or be able to do by younger children.

Sports are great for exercise, being outdoors and team building, but can be a poor choice for the noncompetitive, introverted, shy type. Visual Arts, Music, Dance and Drama classes will give them opportunities for growth, foster self esteem, improve skills in problem solving and still give them an opportunity to succeed at something in a noncompetitive way. Team building happens in a very different way within the context of an art show or a performance at the end of the program. It gives the child a chance to shine and parents a chance to praise.

Many programs and courses do not start right when school does so your child can get back into the rhythm of school. Do not over load your child with too many programs. leave room for play dates, birthday parties and last minute opportunities. Your child will then be more willing to try new  programs afterschool or on weekends.

Listening to your child’s desires should always be the first step in course planning.

Lauren Renzetti ,is assistant director, and teacher    at Art Works Art School. This mother of two has been teaching for over 22 years and understands how challenging it is to get kids  interested in afterschool or weekend programming. Art Works has many after school and weekend programs for all ages.