Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to Choose the Right After School Club for Your Child

One of the things I'm proudest of is my collection of articles on education topics written to Helium titles. While I was teaching enrichment classes in New Orleans area schools post Katrina, I had the opportunity to reflect on a great many things that were good and bad about the way education is approached now as well as my own experiences as a student growing up.

Those reflections are neither here are there, but for a short time I had a blog I titled "Engaging Kids, Enriching Lives. By the time I left teaching and ended up with my first ever grown-up day job, I'd also been involved with YES, the YMCA's adult literacy program. That led to another short-lived blog, Literacy is Important.

Because the demands of "real world" (as in not artist world) life (day job, moving out of the house for yet more post Katrina .renovations, etc.) once again got in the way, when I finally got back to blog posting I decided to narrow it down and deleted the ones I wasn't as focused on (Music that Makes Me, The Writing Life...).

If you look at the dates of my posts, it's obvious that time management is still one of my greatest challenges, and life is still throwing obstacles in my path. I am choosing to look at the closing of Helium as an opportunity to breath much needed new life into the blogs I have left, and for every article that doesn't fit into those (travel, wine, art/crafting, and New Orleans) Let Me Say It Well should more than suffice.

The first education topic article to transcend here is How to Choose the Right After School Club for Your Child. In some instances, an after school (or enrichment) class will be the option instead of a club, but the how of choosing is still the same.

If you're a parent, I urge you to keep in mind that while it's great to expose children to things with a sort of Liberal Arts kind of approach, it's also great to just let them be children. If they don't show an interest in something after a reasonable amount of time, let them move on to something else.

The article:

How to Choose the right after School Club for your Child

After school clubs are a great resource for working parents as well as for students. In addition to the social aspect, clubs provide an outlet for kids to engage in everything from art and drama to chess, and clubs keep kids occupied with something constructive until parents are done with the work day.
When it becomes time to choose a club for your child you’ll want to do so with his or her specific interests and aptitudes in mind. It is also good to consider your child’s current social skills as well as their strengths and weaknesses in order to pick a club that can help them grow or address any challenges.  
A child who likes singing might enjoy being in the glee club (especially with the success of the hit show, Glee), but if he or she is already in the church choir, you might instead choose to place them in something like a poetry club that might one day help them become a song writer.
While it’s obvious that an outgoing child could benefit from being in a drama club, there are many great benefits when you choose this option for a shy child. Being a part of the drama club can help kids develop or improve their self-confidence and become more comfortable speaking in front of groups. The vocal exercises help kids to become better, more articulate speakers, and mumblers can learn how to project and be heard.
Imaginative young children in kindergarten and first grade would benefit greatly from being part of a storybook club. Those in second, third and fourth who struggle with reading, could also benefit from some type of book club, particularly one where students take turns reading out loud and engage in discussions about the books that they have read.
Parents of creative students will want to choose clubs that allow them to express themselves and grow at a particular craft such as art, writing, and photography. These types of clubs will help students become more observant of the world around them as they learn about perspective and composition.
Every child should have the benefit of being a part of a service oriented club at some point in their academic career and when young children participate in service clubs they learn about important life skills and concepts such as compassion. Service clubs are also an opportunity for children to begin to develop leadership skills.
Academic clubs such those centered around Science and Math help children with an aptitude in those areas go beyond the book and the classroom to explore fun with numbers and interesting experiments. These clubs are ideal for children who might otherwise get bored during the school day when the majority of their classmates are working on a different level.
Game clubs are not just all about fun and play. Parents may want to choose one of these for a child who is still struggling with turn taking and fair play, or for kids with quick wit who enjoy a challenge. Games offer a variety of benefits and contribute to improved critical thinking and problem solving. Clubs that include strategy games such as chess help students develop skills they can use later in life.
More and more schools are offering parents and students fantastic options for a wider variety of clubs than have ever existed in the past. This means that parents can pick and choose based on their kids’ current interests, or expose them to something completely new. The benefits of clubs is far-reaching and all parents and students should take full advantage of any after school enrichment offered.

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