Five Types of Activities for Children
It’s something that parents have wondered about for generations: how do you keep kids entertained after school? For parents in Calgary, this is no different.
Extracurricular activities and after-school programs are not just beneficial for kids, who get structure, socialization, and the building up of better emotional maturity and discipline. They can also provide a break for parents, who get a bit of time to themselves as their children expend extra energy on the development of new skills.
Today’s blog for those who are always wondering, what are some good after-school activities for kids? Whether you live in Bearspaw or Lake Bonavista, here are five of the best recreational classes and after-school ideas, for small children and teenagers alike.
1. Team Sports
One of the most popular choices for kids’ recreation, team sports can be found across Calgary, with multiple leagues catering to skill levels. Some of these are offered through schools, but many others are community-based: baseball, hockey, soccer, and plenty of others.
These sports are excellent because they provide a safe place to build social skills and cooperation in a controlled environment. Learning to rely on one another, communicate effectively, contribute to collective success, and celebrate wins together can be immensely rewarding for kids as they grow and start testing their independence. Plus, the assistance of organizations like the YMCA/YWCA can take off some of the financial and supervisory stress for parents, too.
2. Individual Sports
While team sports are a great choice, some kids flourish better in more individual sports. These after-school activities (or, sometimes, before school) can include sports like swimming, skating, gymnastics, or cross-country running. Some may choose to take up canoeing on the Glenmore Reservoir, rock climbing through the University of Calgary, or simple nature walks through the Greenway trails near Bowness Park.
The important thing to know is that the skills developed here are no less meaningful than the ones in team sports. Self-improvement, motivation, and going beyond a “comfort zone” are all important parts of youth development and practicing these less competitive after-school activities brings those qualities into focus.
3. Music Classes
Maybe your child doesn’t like sports at all. That’s okay, too! Have you considered putting them into music classes? They’re among the most common choices for parents looking at Calgary after-school programs.
That’s because studies show that playing an instrument activates almost every region of the brain, synchronizing sensory input, memory, movement, interpretation, vision, and emotion, all at the same time. It’s like a full-body workout for your brain, and systematic practice can improve many other areas of cognition, including memory and critical thinking. So, dust off the old piano or shine up that guitar, and let your kids express themselves with one of the world’s most popular art forms. Who knows – maybe they’ll be packing venues like the Ironwood in Inglewood within a few years!
4. Youth Clubs
Not all classes for kids or after-school programs for teens need to be based on sports or skills. Sometimes, sharing a hobby and having a group to discuss it with can be a good way to spend an evening, too. You can find many of these extracurricular groups to suit any personality: photography clubs, book clubs, chess clubs, camping groups, Boy Scouts, robotics teams…the list is endless. Many Calgary communities have lists of these, and some do many different activities throughout the year.
If your child has an interest and you can’t find a club to join, you can even start your own. It’s an exciting way to meet new people and make new friends who share your interests.
5. Martial Arts
While it does offer all the physical activity benefits of sports, martial arts are also a huge advantage for the mind. Learning techniques like discipline, meditation, introspection, goal-setting, and respect for authority are all part of the process, and many parents find the increased emotional control of their kids in martial arts to be a major bonus. Of course, there is also the added relief that your child can defend themselves better in bad situations, too.
Schools like Kung Fu for Life, near the 39th Ave C-Train station just off Macleod Trail, provide a welcoming environment for kids to learn and grow, while also offering a consistent challenge and framework. When looking for extracurricular classes for kids, taking these factors into account will help you choose one that leads to better health and wellness – not just for them now, but many years to come.
After-school programs won’t last forever, but the lessons and skills picked up in kung fu – those are for life!