GREENWOOD, Ind. — Schools are back in session and so are the opportunities for kids to sign up for sports, clubs, and all kinds of extracurricular activities. What do we do if our kids have zero interest? What do we do if they want to sign up for every activity? 13News Education Expert Jennifer Brinker is assistant principal at Greenwood Middle School and shared 13Sunrise some answers to these questions.
Dustin Grove: Why should our kids should get involved in extracurricular activities?
Mrs. Brinker: Kids who are involved with activities out of the classroom tend to have better performance in the classroom. They get experience with time management and leadership. Activities and clubs help build community involvement, resilience, social skills, and so much more.
Dustin Grove: what about those kids that want to sign up for every single club or sport that they hear about?
Mrs. Brinker: It’s all about balance. We do want our students to be getting exposure to as many different types of activities as possible so they can find what they like. When we do it all at once, though, they tend to get completely overwhelmed and burn out. The first step would be to establish good time management skills with your child by investing in either a physical calendar or planner or using something like Google Calendar for those families who are more comfortable with technology. If your child hears about a new club or sport that sounds interesting to them, find out the practice or meeting requirements and add it to the calendar. If they begin to get stressed about the amount of items on that schedule, talk about how you can start to scale back. Remind them that even if they don’t have time for all of their interests right now, they will eventually. Talk about how you can work in other activities during breaks when things aren’t quite as hectic.
Dustin Grove: What are suggestions for parents who might have a child that doesn’t want to try any activities?
Mrs. Brinker: Learning what interests kids takes trial and error. The idea is to expose them to different opportunities early and often. When you begin a new activity or club, talk about what the initial commitment you are making entails. If you sign your child up for dance lessons, let them know that you will try this for two months and then reevaluate. If they sign up for band, let them know that it is a year-long commitment. If they are playing soccer, let them know they will be part of that team for the entire season. This lets kids know that we don’t quit or give up the instant we don’t like something because sometimes it takes time. It is also important that if they really don’t like that activity, no matter how badly you want them to, they can be done and try something else when the session or season is over.
Dustin Grove: How would you recommend that you manage what types of activities that your child is in?
Mrs. Brinker: I think a good rule of thumb would be that you are doing something for your body and something for your brain. It is good to have a balance of both of those types of activities. Obviously, as kids get older they might show an inclination or preference to one more than the other, but to start off and make sure you are giving some sort of equal exposure during the school year, that rule will help you.