Extracurricular activities, extra
After-school and weekend activities can help your kids learn new
skills as well as build new friendships and experiences.
Here is how to help your kids flourish and learn through
extracurricular classes without paying a fortune and turning you
into a part-time activities coordinator.
Choosing an activity
Depending on what your child is interested in, they could take
lessons in art, music, dance, sports or even community and youth
group activities like scouts or brownies. With so many activities
on offer the choice can be overwhelming. Especially when you are on
a tight budget and need to limit the number of things they can
Here are some tips on choosing the right activity:
- Just ask them - Ask your child what they think
they would like to do.
- Observation - Observe their play and see where
their strengths lie. Do they like drawing or sports or
- Ask other parents - Find out from other
parents in your child's class what their children are doing and
what they enjoy. Perhaps your child can join in an activity with a
- Do online research - Check online to see what
activities are on offer in your local area.
- Call around and ask questions - Once you have
narrowed down the type of activity you can call local businesses
offering the classes and ask some key questions: Are the
instructors properly qualified to instruct children? Is there a
suitable ratio of adults to children? What facilities do they offer
for the activity? What are the total costs?
Give it a
Before committing to a season or term of payments and spending
money on a uniform, take the time to visit the venue and let your
child try out or watch the activity. Some activities like dance
will let you trial a class before committing to it.
When your child trials the class you'll be able to see if they
enjoyed and joined in with the activity and if the class was
pitched at the right level for your child.
If you're still unsure about the class, check if the activities
can be paid one lesson at a time, and ask if the club or
organisation will refund your registration fee if your child
withdraws from the activity after a few lessons.
Check your kids really like
Make sure you don't enrol them in too many activities at once.
Start them on one thing at a time so you can work out if they
really love the activity or just tolerate it.
A good test of whether they really like it is if they are happy
to practice the activity at home. For example if they like piano
lessons but refuse to practice then maybe they would be better
suited to another activity.
The same goes for sports and dance activities.
Case study: Lucy's music lessons
Lucy was thrilled when her
school offered music lessons to children interested in learning to
play an instrument. Her parents agreed for Lucy to rent a guitar
from the school, and to pay for one lesson at a time. After a few
months, Lucy complained to her parents that she didn't enjoy
playing the guitar, and would be happy just to sing with friends in
the school choir instead. Lucy was very happy learning to use her
voice with the school choir, and Lucy's parents were glad that they
hadn't bought Lucy a guitar, and that they hadn't paid for the full
term of guitar lessons.
When your child is just starting out in an activity, you can
save money using second- hand gear until they're sure they want to
Once you know your child wants to commit to an activity, you can
save some money if you sign up early, at the start of the term or
season. Some activities also give discounts if you enrol a second
Ask if the registration fee covers the cost of your child's
uniform or costumes, and if there are any additional costs to pay,
such as weekly referee costs if they are learning a team sport or
production fees for an end of year concert.
If your child shows particular talent in an activity, then you
could consider looking into scholarships. Some schools offer
academic scholarships for students who are star performers in music
Create a family budget and add the cost of activities to work
out what it is really costing you per year.
While it can be exciting to get involved in
extracurricular activities, watch out for activity overload: you'll
recognise it because your child will show fatigue, and you'll also
be tired and stressed from taking them from one activity to the
Last updated: 10 Feb 2017