While common children’s activities like team sports, dance classes and music lessons hold widespread appeal, they’re not enjoyable for every child. If you’re struggling to find activities that truly engage your child, consider these 7 recommendations from Circle of Moms members.
1. Art and Acting Classes
Is your child especially creative? As Morgan V. shares, “A lot of places offer acting lessons or art classes.” Community centers, art studios and theater companies often offer children’s programs, from ceramics or watercolors to theater workshops. And as Bethanie L. shares, art classes aren’t necessarily expensive: “We have a local art studio that has cheap art classes…Only $5 each time we go and he can paint and make a mess (that I don’t have to clean up!) for two hours straight.”
2. Volunteering with Animals
Whether your child is a regular Dr. Doolittle or simply loves puppies, encouraging an interest in animals can lead to a rewarding extracurricular experience. As Joanne M. shared: “My son has a love for birds, so at age 8 he helps at a bird of prey sanctuary.” Another possibility is volunteering at a local animal shelter, says Dawn M.: “If they love animals, volunteer together at the ASPCA.”
3. Martial Arts
Martial arts can help children develop patience, discipline, listening skills and physical coordination. And as moms like Deanna J. shared, many kids love it: “I have my 3 youngest in tae-kwon-do. They love it and it is a great source of activity for all of them.” Etrezia L.’s two daughters, ages 8 and 11, do Karate and “love it to bits.”
Many children love working with their hands to create things, whether it’s carpentry or electronics. In fact, a recent NY Times article highlights that carpentry and construction classes are becoming increasingly popular across the country. Meanwhile, robotics clubs are often organized through schools and allow groups of students or individuals to participate in competitions.
5. Chess Club
“Chess is fantastic for strategic thinking,” shares Rebecca L. “It’s a great way to engage boys, especially 10, 11, 12 year-olds.” And Christina S. shares that “My girls love chess and my oldest has taken lessons and competes. They will both be on the summer chess team.” Chess clubs are fairly common at schools, but community clubs and private teachers are also possibilities.
Does your child have a green thumb? Julie G. suggests getting involved in a community garden, while Leslie C. helped her boys start a home garden: “We set up a small greenhouse and started growing tomatoes and other plants. My son finally found something to do other than playing the PlayStation, and the younger son loves helping with it too.”
7. Individual Sports
Does your child dislike team sports but thrive on competition? Consider fencing classes, suggests Julie G. Though it requires quick reflexes and high stamina, “there is something very cerebral in it… something about the sport that is attractive to kids that are not the ‘ra ra’ type.” Another individual sport to consider is bowling, says Marci H., whose son “loves it .. and the kid is good!”
Overall, just remember to let your child’s true interests and strengths be your guide. As Tracy D. shares: “The key is to find something they already show some talent in and are interested in learning or getting better at.”