I’m always on a lookout for new things to do with my 5 years old apart from her school. Something like an after school activity. There are plenty of opportunities available in my neighbourhood from Dancing, Ballet, to Gymnastics, to Theatre, Martial Arts, to Music and Art. It’s not a forced thing on my daughter, I usually enrol them in free trial sessions and gauge her interests than paying a monthly/quarterly bill for these classes. I believe kids pick up activities based on their own interest, as a parent we should not be enforcing our interests on them. See, I could not go beyond 5 classes on Bollywood dancing with her as I realised it is not her thing at all, does not reflect her personality. I see a much happier her when she participates in Theatre, Gymnastics and Art. I basically also got to know more about my daughter’s personality by attending such after school classes, this has helped me as a parent to know my child a little more.
We do not do a packed up week, Out of 7, I usually try to take them out for 3 days a week for these classes, remaining 4 days are dedicated park time. These are good as they are completely off screen and busy exploring their new interests. It is a whole lot of holistic development of a child, Every session has its own benefit on personality development, Structured physical development and also all these sessions are very mentally stimulating. Kids get to meet new kids which in turn help them in their social development too.
Google for information on neighbouring classes running in your area to enrol your child. Start with a day in a week and you can move on to more interests after few months. I understand it is little hard on Mommy’s to move around for classes as there is always so much to do with kids around, but if Mommies can get a little organised they can carry their pending work (Paying bills, Online grocery shopping, Online clothing, Reading a book…) while the kids are learning new skill by being around the class.
A very important safety tip – Most of these classes have a drop & go thing, they usually do not allow the parent to hang around or parent themselves decide to go shopping or for a walk as they have nothing much to do. I would advise if these classes do not have any CCTV or staff to monitor your kids, never leave your kids alone in their premises. Ensure your child is safe by doing all the safety checks before you move out leaving your child in these external premises how much ever familiar you are with the instructors.
To summarise, I feel the benefits of after school are unlimited, however
Kids go off screen
Develops social skills
plenty of scope on skill enhancement
helps in personality development
A lot of physical movement with Gymnastics, Dance and Martial Arts.
The right age to start on these is about 4, for below 4 there are few options like Rhythm & Rhyme Musical classes and other toddler development programs!