If your child is not enrolled in any extracurricular activities, you might wonder about the best way to fill in their after-school hours at home. Although encouraging your child to participate in extracurricular activities can benefit their performance and behaviour, it can also consume your child’s energy and time each day. For this reason alone, some parents opt to restrict extracurricular activities to the weekend and give their children a break on weeknights.
Research shows that extracurricular activities can cultivate social development, reduce aggressive behaviour and increase concentration and motivation in children. But, if your child is unable to participate in group extracurricular activities due to health or the family schedule, it is important to fill his or her after-school time with enriching activities that compensate for the lack of extracurricular commitments.
But first, give your child a chance to recharge using some of the tips below. Even just half an hour of relaxation can reinvigorate your child after school.
Helpful routines to help your child recharge after school:
1. Make sure your child is fed and rested
Growing children feel hungry often and need plenty of calories. An afternoon snack is a good way to recharge their energy after a long day at school. Provide healthy and delicious snacks before sending them to do their homework and prepare their bag for the next day. Do not rush them to take care of their important assignments before giving them a chance to refuel. Let them catch a breath before tackling homework.
If your child brings lunch to school, get them to bring their lunch box to the sink as they come in, and offer them a snack.
2. Give an introverted child time to retreat
If your child is introverted, a day at school can be overwhelmingly stressful, being surrounded by so many people. Let your child retreat to a quiet place for some alone time, until they unwind enough to feel at ease. Even though you might want to know all about your child’s day, save your curiosity for later, once your child has had a chance to recharge.
3. Let your outgoing child release their built-up energy
If your child is a chatterbox, he or she might have a thing or two (or more) to say about their day at school. Let them unload their built-up unspoken thoughts to you. This will help your child unwind and be themselves in a comfortable setting.
4. Take a moment for physical closeness
If your child still welcomes your cuddles, take a moment to snuggle with them each day. Even if you think your child is too big for a cuddle, you might be surprised by the big shy grin on their face when you hug them.
5. Share your day
Sharing your day doesn’t mean reporting what you did and why. It’s more about your overall observations and your feelings about your day. You can share new things you learned and challenges you faced, how you dealt with them or how you intend to face them tomorrow. This will help your child learn to open up about their own day and share their worries with you more easily.
What are the best after-school activities for your child’s development?
1. Peaceful reading time or audiobook
If your child is introverted, they will probably benefit from quiet reading or listening to audiobooks to help them recharge. As they have their after-school snack, let them enjoy some reading time by providing access to interesting new books.
If your child is a big reader, one way to accommodate their appetite is by visiting the local library every week and getting a week’s worth of books. You can also help your child access ebooks and audiobooks from online libraries or reading apps.
2. Game or screen time
If your child can keep the promise to respect time limits regarding access to digital media, allow them some fun screen time. As long as they play age-appropriate games with safe content that you have vetted and approved, screen time can be educational and entertaining. Just don’t forget to give them the joy of having some content that might not be so educational, but simply fun.
3. Subscription kits based on their interests
There are many activity kit subscriptions that provide your child with activities and experiments, such as Mel Science or Kiwico Crates.
You can pick a kit that fulfills your child’s interests and curiosity while enriching their knowledge beyond what regular school learning can provide.
4. Instrument practice
If your child is interested in a musical instrument, after school is a great time for them to practice. Unlike sports, most instruments can be played solo, which is perfect for individual practice with or without a tutor. Even if your child has not yet started to learn the instrument they are interested in, you can probably find an affordable tutor; for example, a student who is majoring in music at college. Learning an instrument can be a great way to utilize your child’s after-class time at home.
5. Set a project
Plan a new project with your child. Each weekend you and your child can come up with a plan and decide how much time you should allow yourselves to complete it. It can be art projects like collage, painting, or sculpting; or science projects like gardening or creating an insect habitat.
6. Craft and art
If your child loves hands-on pastimes, drawing, painting, and crafting can be great activities. Provide access to books and videos for abundant crafting and art ideas. There are many free resources on the internet that you can download for your child, including here on Balanceinwonderland’s Printables section.
Your little ones go through many ups and downs at school, since not every day can be a sunny day. Help your child wind down after school, no matter how antsy you might be to get things done and fill your child’s after-school hours with enriching activities.
Make sure your child is fed and rested, and try to take a moment to engage with him or her, sharing stories from each other’s day with a warm cuddle—but make sure to give a chance for your introverted child to retreat to a quiet place away from the daily bombardment of stimulations.
Tailor enriching activities to your child’s unique temperament and interests, whether it be peaceful reading time, fun screen time and games, subscription kits with science or art activities, learning an instrument, or weekly projects with parents.
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