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Obesity has become a global health crisis amongst adults—a public health problem that is largely ignored but getting worse daily. Blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and mental health issues are on the rise in youth. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, remote schooling, and public spaces essentially shut down, adults and children alike have been plagued with sedentary confinement.
The rise of technology, especially video games, has led to hours of immobile, unstimulated, and unsocialized children. It is more imperative than ever to sign your child up for extracurricular activities rather than letting them sink into an uncreative, unmotivated slump. Communicating with your child is critical to learn what their interests are and what activities they would like to explore. Below are 6 of the best extracurricular activities you should consider signing your kids up for to get them moving mentally and physically!
Everyone should know how to cook a good meal—especially children and teenagers. Culinary skills are an invaluable life skill that can lead to a happier, satisfied life. Cooking classes are an excellent space for bonding between parent and child, and they can go far in teaching kids more skills than just one. If you sign your child up for cooking classes, you encourage them to consider what they are putting into their bodies.
Kids are more likely to eat healthier when they know how to cook, by naturally avoiding processed foods in favor of fresher ingredients. You encourage your children to contribute to family meals, learn how to handle sharp knives or dangerous kitchenware, expand their vocabulary, reading, and math skills while exploring their creative side. Cooking is an incredible, tactile way to be creative, whether it’s exploring new ingredients or decorating. A cooking class invites kids to learn a valuable, hands-on skill with children their own age—with a delicious payoff!
Currently, drowning is still a prevalent cause of accidental death amongst children. Like cooking, learning to swim is an essential life skill, as it could easily save your child’s life. If you have already begun to research swimming lessons for kids, then it is time to sign them up for their first class! Swimming is an incredibly beneficial skill for your growing child to learn—it is a physical activity that keeps your child’s heart, lungs, and body strong.
Swimming is a low-impact sport that is less likely to hurt your child’s body when they grow into adulthood. Children also strengthen their brain’s when swimming by naturally enhancing their senses and their mind/body connection in the water. The Griffith Institute of Educational Research in Australia published a study that suggested young swimmers tested higher than the average population of non-swimmers in skills such as “language development, fine motor skills, confidence, physical development, and even math skills.” Plus, it gets your kid away from those damaging screens!
Dar Williams, an American folksinger, once said: “I think music is another language.” Music is a universal language, a form of communication that transcends any language barrier. There is freedom in music—speaking a language that expresses something our regular tongue can’t tell. Learning an instrument, or getting singing lessons, can be an invaluable tool for children learning how to express themselves. Music is one of the best ways to encourage our kids to explore their creativity by crafting song lyrics or unique musical arrangements.
There are too many instruments to choose from, so it is best to let your child try out multiple avenues. You don’t want to force them to play the piano for years when they would rather be playing the guitar or the drums. Maybe you have a future marching band musician on your hands?
Music therapy, or assessing emotional well-being through responses to music, is often effective on younger people. Playing music, or learning an instrument, has been known to relax youthful people and lead to lower anxiety rates. However, you want to communicate with your child if they want to continue learning to play an instrument in the first place.
Like instruments, there are many dance forms to consider admitting your child into—ballet, jazz, hip hop, Irish step dance, or K-pop are all styles to consider. If you have a highly active child, a more energetic dance style like hip hop could be a perfect avenue to channel their restless energy. First, it is essential to determine what your son or daughter would like to try out and if they would like to continue once they have done it for a while.
Dance is a highly intensive activity that will develop your child physically and mentally and test their discipline, team building skills, and responsibility. Just like their schoolwork, your son or daughter will need to practice a choreography routine to make sure they don’t let their team down. Dance is very goal-oriented and prime space for social, cognitive, and emotional development.
The skills they take from dance can help your child academically and could easily follow them into their adult life.
If you have a drama king or queen on your hands who live for the applause—consider signing them up for a drama class or to be apart of your local community theater! Whether it is in the chorus, background dancing, set design, lighting, acting, or potentially directing, there are many spaces for your child to find their niche in the theater.
Drama club is an invaluable tool for helping your child gain confidence, as well as social and public speaking skills. This could be the perfect way to bring your shy one out of their shell! Also, community theater teaches kids about community building and how to become more involved in the greater world around them.
Martial Arts, Karate or Taekwondo
Martial arts are rooted in respect, discipline, and control, rather than violence. Self-defense and violence are rarely apart of karate, taekwondo, and judo lessons, and kids will often be punished for demonstrating violence in the dojo. The most important takeaway for kids in martial arts classes is controlled.
They learn how to respect their teachers, the ranking system and find a sense of achievement in taking the necessary steps toward the next belt color. Sore losers are not tolerated in martial arts, and children learn how to handle authority and pressure in a controlled environment.