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Congratulations Mom! You have just survived the first weekend of the back to school madness. Now, all that’s left for you to do is to get into the rhythm and flow of school lunches, homework, special projects, scheduling and chauffeur services. 

Phew! I’m exhausted from just typing that list! 

Now that the textbooks and stationery have been bought or ordered, it’s time to figure out scheduling and budget for your child’s extramural activities for the year. While many schools offer extramural activities onsite some schools may only have a limited option per term and what’s on offer may not appeal to your child. The tempting response is to throw in the towel for the term and try again next time because life is busy as is. However, I strongly encourage you to resist the urge to settle for nothing out of convenience because it may potentially teach your child to measure their choices based on convenience. 

Last week our CEO Olwethu penned a transparent, insightful and inspiring blog titled ‘Happy YOU year!’ where she shared our theme for the year – “Grow where you are planted.”

What does it look like for your child to grow where they’re planted? How can you as a mother actively support and nourish that growth? 

Extramural activities provide an opportunity for your child to meet and make new friends outside their bubble – further develop psychologically, physically and socially. 

Developmental Skills  

Critical Thinking and Reflexes – Regardless of what activity your child signs up for, their participation will require them to think quickly on their feet and sharpen their critical thinking skills as they navigate the various situations/challenges that said activity may present them with. Sharpening these skills from a young age will serve them well in other areas of their academic career and beyond. 

Time Management – Having a chosen commitment to attend to every week will require your child to learn how to manage their time as they navigate the responsibilities that come with school (homework) and the extramural activity. 

Teamwork – Team environments help children learn how to work with different personalities, compromise, be accountable, and problem solve.

Activities and Their Benefits  

Sports – provide plenty of opportunities for your child to further develop their eye-hand coordination, fitness, peer learning, patience and organisational skills. Research shows a strong correlation between the ability to sit straight at a desk, concentration, and being able to follow written words on a page with catching, throwing, kicking and hitting a ball. 

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, there is a strong link between brain function and physical activity in young children. Studies have found that primary school kids who are fit and active are more likely to do well in reading and maths.

Performing Arts – behind the colourful façade of the performing arts are real hidden skills that kids can learn from. Besides the obvious coordination and motor skills, performing arts classes also teach children essential life skills such as; 

  1. Perseverance. 
  2. Resilience. 
  3. Concentration.  
  4. Interpersonal skills.

Cooking and Baking – there are many life lessons to be found in the kitchen. Cooking and baking teach children life lessons they might not otherwise learn in school. Whilst learning about food hygiene, kitchen safety and basic maths, children are also able to develop their character. Cooking and baking also provide a fun and creative space for children to further enhance their vocabulary, perceptual skills, bilateral integration and sequencing skills, and motor skills, through mixing, weighing, mashing, pouring, rolling and stirring.

Some Fun Out the Box Ideas  

  • Young Engineers – an edutainment approach using LEGOs to teach children science, mathematics, engineering and technology basics. For more details check out their website www.youngengineers.co.za 
  • Coding Classes – In today’s technology-driven world coding has become an invaluable skill. in the technology-driven world, we live in. Check out all that is on offer at Code College on www.codecollege.co.za 
  •  Yoga – there are many benefits to enrolling your child in a yoga class. It teaches children body awareness and how to breathe deeply and fully. Yoga will help improve your child’s balance, coordination, flexibility and focus. 

 

Some Questions to Consider Before Signing Up

  1. Is it age-appropriate or should you wait a year or two? 
  2. How will this impact your child’s confidence?
  3. What will your child gain from participating?
  4. Can you afford it?
  5. How will this impact the family? What sacrifices if any will need to be made?
  6. Will they be able to keep up with their schoolwork?
  7. Will adding the activity to their schedule add stress to your child, family or yourself?
  8. Will it strengthen one of their talents?
  9. Whose choice is it? Are you living vicariously through your child or is this what they want?

Educational psychologist Anne McDonald, says that parents need to be careful not to stand in the way of their children reaping the full benefits of partaking in an extramural activity. She encourages parents to sign their children up for activities they have independently shown interest in. Children need to be given the space to develop at their own pace. Empowering your child to take the lead in choosing an activity and schedule will give them a deeper sense of ownership and responsibility. 

How will you be helping your child grow where they are planted in 2022?