As children emerge from the infant years and become toddlers and preschoolers, finding extracurricular activities for them becomes an opportunity to find out more about what interests them and what skills they may want to build. Our tips will help you to select activities that will engage your children, but you may also want to speak to your daycare provider and ask for their recommendation for activities based on what they’ve observed about your child’s interests throughout the day.
Consider Their Interests & Abilities
When signing your child up for extra curricular activities, consider their interests and natural abilities, instead of thinking of your own. Many parents had childhood dreams of becoming professional hockey players or concert pianists, but your child may have something different in mind. Try not to push your child to engage in activities that interest you but hold no appeal for them. A great way to gauge your child’s interests is to have them do a few “trials.” Many music teachers, coaches, and dance or gymnastics instructors offer trial classes, so children can see whether they are interested in a given activity, or so you can decide whether they are ready for that activity developmentally.
Go Outside Their Comfort Zone
That said, if your child avoids certain activities or needs to grow in some areas, you may want to coax them into engaging in an activity that stretches them outside their comfort zone just a bit. At our child development center, we have a child who loves numbers and letters so much that he often spends his time quietly absorbed by his numbered blocks, alphabet magnets, and counting beads, and he tends to stay away from gross motor activities, especially ones that require him to work as a team with other children. Enrolling him in soccer got him outdoors and running at top speed, and it helped him develop an approach to teamwork that led to greater comfort working in groups with same-age peers.
Let Them Have The Experience
Don’t become too invested in your young child’s successes or skill-building. Early childhood development is a great time for kids to try out different activities and learn a bit about what they like and dislike as well as what they do or do not have an aptitude for. Encouraging them to do their best is good for them, but insisting that they win every game or play every note perfectly is more likely to put pressure on them and make them feel as if they are doing an activity for you, rather than for themselves. Let your child see where their natural abilities take them, and remember that they can always focus in on one or two activities that they have an aptitude for as they get older.
How do you decide which activities to sign your child up for? Have you had any discoveries about your child’s abilities and interests as your child becomes more interested in extracurricular activities? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section, and visit Child’s World Academy to learn why we are the top daycare center in Monroe!