After School Activities: Help Your Child Socialize With These 5 Tips
Socialization is so important to the healthy development of a young child. However, most school districts have increasingly stringent goals that need to be met including test scores and general educational benchmarks. As a result, teachers are spending more time on core subjects and less time on socialization and structured play. As kids progress through elementary school, they will also be expected to spend more time on homework than the previous generations. The good news is that there are lots of fun and creative after school activities that encourage socialization at a young age.
1. Time at the playground
Taking a child to the park or playground seems like a simple after school activity, but it’s one of the most useful things students can do between the ages of K through 2nd grade. Each student will have had a different upbringing from birth to 5 and will come to kindergarten with a different set of social skills. Some kids will live in a neighborhood full of other children their age or have several siblings in the household. Other children may not have had as much of an opportunity to socialize or attend preschool as their counterparts. Time at the playground teaches children to learn how to share the equipment and get along with other children they don’t already know in a semi-structured but supervised environment.
2. A non-competitive sports team
Some sports leagues are highly competitive and are fantastic for students who want to refine their athletic skills or compete to win. Alternatively, there are several non-competitive sports teams that primarily develop social skills and general physical education. This second type of activity is great for kids who need more of an opportunity to socialize. The coaches and volunteers will keep the environment structured and make sure everything works out OK, but the kids have an opportunity to learn a skill while depending on each other for support. The focus isn’t so much on winning but experiencing an organized form of socialization that is essential to a child’s overall upbringing (READ: After School Activities: 5 Ways to Tear Your Kid Away From the TV).
3. Community service
Volunteering isn’t just for high school students who need to complete units to apply to college. Rather, community service activities are a fantastic way for younger kids to learn how to get along with their fellow human beings. Whether students are helping out at a bake sale that benefits their school or working with members of the community who need some extra TLC, volunteerism helps teach empathy and encourages youngsters to work together for the greater good.
4. Play dates
Kids often ask to have play dates with their best friends at school or in the neighborhood. It’s great to have time for close friends, but it’s also important for kids to get to know others their age who they haven’t met yet. Many communities have scheduled activities that any child can participate in on an official or unofficial basis. Whether a parent arranges for kids to spend a little bit of time with each other after school completing a craft, playing outside, or joining in on a community event, play dates are one of the most important yet simple ways young kids can learn how to socialize.
5. Arts and crafts
Many community centers offer arts and craft classes with a hands-on approach. Although kids will take home their individual art projects, these types of after school activities allow for a higher level of socialization that isn’t always allowed in the classroom. Children will have the opportunity to converse and collaborate in an environment where they get to give and take feedback on how to complete their creative endeavor.
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