Harvey Hoyo (President, California School Counselors Association) gives expert video advice on: Why should I encourage my child to do after-school activities?; Should I encourage a balance of physical and academic after-school activities?; Should I ever pressure my child to join an after-school activity? and more...
Why should I encourage my child to do after-school activities?
It's really essential that you encourage your child to get involved in after-school activities because the research shows the more the youngster is involved in the school setting, both in the classroom and outside the classroom, the more successful he'll be, both now and in the future. If he sees the school as a place of learning for himself and self-development, then that will continue both academically and socially. It's really key to provide those experiences after school or see to it that those experiences are offered after school in a safe, orderly environment. Oftentimes there are monies to support that, and it's just a question of getting involved in that as a parent.
Should I encourage a balance of physical and academic after-school activities?
It would be essential to provide a balance to your child by encouraging both physical activities as well as academic activities. Most children don't know the difference between the two; if it's fun, they'll do it, so it really doesn't matter. As a good parent, understand the difference, and really you want to provide balance for your child and realize both would be appropriate.
Should I ever pressure my child to join an after-school activity?
As an involved parent, there comes a point where you have to make a parental interpretation. If you're finding your child is isolating himself too much, I would find it appropriate for you to pressure, connive, motivate your child to participate in this particular activity. You don't want to cause trauma, but you do want to use a firm hand in encouraging interaction. Again, a successful student is one that is involved in the school settings. So as a good parent, you want to make sure that that youngster is involved. So the question is communicating, finding out what that youngster is interested in, and directing him to a program that matches his interests. That would be the best way of doing it. Don't force him into an activity that he has no interest in. Find one that he has an interest in, or start one that he's interested in, or she's interested in, and you'll get maximum participation that way.
Is it okay for me to prohibit my child from an after-school activity?
If you feel that the activity is not safe, then it is totally appropriate to forbid you child from an after school activity. If you feel the after school activity will cause trauma, or the after school activity is more involved, perhaps at a skill level that is higher than what your youngster is capable of, it is possible to prohibit the child from it. My suggestion would be to have a communication with whoever's sponsoring the after school activity, to find out if that would be appropriate, or where your child can fit into that after school activity, because often the monitor of the after school activity can reformat some of those activities to deal with your child's needs. That's not a problem, it's just the awareness of that problem. So I would take that first step before you ban an after school activity. In general, if the activity isn't safe, it wouldn't be offered at the school site.
What should I do if my child wants to quit his after-school activities?
That could be normal, and could be developmental. My son wanted to quit boy scouts when he was in the 11th grade and I was really disappointed with that but it was appropriate for him because he had other interests. You need to find out and probe a little bit as to why he wants to, and also at the same time ask, And what will you join next? If there's is another activity he wants to join because his interests have shifted. Totally appropriate, that is ok. However, if he is avoiding social contact, if he is being threatened by neighborhood bullies because he is participating in this activity, then by probing you can find out a little bit more detail and then act accordingly.
Can after-school activities cause stress in some children?
Activities that are inappropriate can cause stress in some children and the bottom line is, some stress is normal in our life, and we need some stress. When you play baseball as a youngster, you're often worried about "What would I do if the ball comes to me?" That can be very stressful. Some students are more stressed than others. That's a good kind of stress that needs to be encouraged. It's the way you handle the stress. Again, a good conversation with your youngster will help you, as a good parent, define that stress is appropriate for this particular activity. If it is, no problem. If it's not, a communication with the leader to find out details would be really appropriate, because no leader of an after-school activity wants to cause undue stress for one of the participants.