Parent Magazine St. Johns November 2018 - Page 8

: s e i t i v i t c A l o o h c S r e Aft FIVE BENEFITS OF FOR HAPPY, WELL-ROUNDED KIDS by Christina Katz P arents, do you ever wonder if you may be taking the whole over-scheduling taboo too seriously? For years, parents have been hearing that kids have too many activities, too much homework, too-heavy backpacks, too much screen time, too much sugar… and on and on. Personally, I find most parents are intelligent, conscientious, and trying to find a healthy middle ground for everyone in the family. Most parents want their kids to have just the right amount of after school activities. The vast majority seem committed to helping their kids become happier, healthier, more well-rounded citizens without pushing them into activity overload. So why not remember a few things kids stand to gain from after school activities instead? Kids can benefit artistically, physically, socially, mentally and personally from after school activities. I contacted a half-dozen after school activity pros, and here are some of the many benefits for kids that we discussed: FIT, CONFIDENT KIDS As Elle Woods reminds us in the film Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” But motivating kids to get off the couch is not always easy for parents. Your kids are not typically looking to you to motivate them to run some wind-sprints or do a series of gut crunches. They need someone else to step in and motivate them to get moving. This is where after school activities come in, preferably with dedicated, motivating coaches and instructors leading the way. Physical activities increase coordination, inspire discipline, and provide energy outlets for restless kids. So let another trusted adult be in charge for a change, and enjoy your down time while your kids get fitter. LIGHTS WHO SHINE As much as we would like our kids to carry on our values and ideals, it’s really up to them to communicate to us who they are and what they believe. And while we may like to think that our children are born whole and complete, the truth is kids often discover what they are made of after they become immersed in activities that stretch and challenge them. Engaging kids in activities where they feel fully immersed in the experience and are responsible for their own mastery helps kids discover what makes them tick. When it comes to finding an activity for your child, look for outlets that challenge them while providing gradual instruction and skill development. PA R T O F S O M E T H I N G G R E A T E R After school activities offer kids outlets for expressing their energy within a safe learning context. Feeling part of a group with a purpose is a beautiful thing, so make sure that the space where your child spends time is safe, fun, and growth-centric. Often kids become as attached to a center, a studio, or a routine as much as they do to a group of peers. When kids go off to their activities, they should feel like they are going to one of their favorite places – to their home away from home. If this is not the case for your child, then you might want to check out other possibilities. 6 | S T. JOHNS parent MAGAZINE