The options today for extracurricular activities can be overwhelming.andnbsp; Both for the child and well-meaning parents.andnbsp; So, what IS the best option for your child?andnbsp; There are three options that tend to be the most popular extra-curricular activities: instrument lessons, sports and dance.
Not every child will excel in any given activity.andnbsp; And, that’s okay.andnbsp; Just like you and I had different interests as we grew up, so will our children.
How We Are The Same
While there are differences between music lessons and other extracurricular activities, like sports or dance, it doesn’t mean there are no similarities.andnbsp; There are some clear benefits to each.
- Become more aware of how our bodies work.
- Express ourselves without words. (More for dance and music).
- Lessons (including sports practices) include new concepts and review as part of the lesson.
- Learn grit and perseverance when mastering something challenging.
- Parents cheer their children on and celebrate their successes!
How We Are Different
But, not all extracurricular activities are created the same. There are several important differences between music lessons, sports and dance.
Unless students are in a group class, instrument lessons tend to be one-on-one. This can help students develop a closer relationship with their teacher over time. Some studios, like ours, include group lessons throughout the year so students get to socialize with each other while getting the best of both approaches.
When learning an instrument, you may be able to have lessons online which can be a great benefit for family life. Rather than being stuck in traffic, your child can go from after school snack to a fantastic piano lesson!
Instrument lessons ideally include the teacher demonstrating AND having the student show how they will practice on their own during the week. Sports and dance would be more likely to include specialist classes the student attends during the week for guided practice.
Practice on an instrument happens in between lessons, rather than multiple sessions a week with the teacher.
For young students, instrument lessons require an adult to set up a regular practice routine and guide them each practice session.andnbsp; For elementary, junior high and older students, parents become more a cheerleader and remind students of their commitments.
Piano lessons are not seasonal.andnbsp; Lessons are either given for a full academic year or continuing through the summer, depending on the teacher. Organized sports typically are seasonal. Dance typically works towards a showcase or recital.
More flexibility is possible during individualized piano lessons. The teacher can focus on a particular genre or activity that your child loves. When it is a team sport or dance class, the approach needs to be structured differently.
Music Lessons, Sports, Dance … Oh My!
Regardless of which option (or options) you and your child choose, there are benefits to extracurricular activities.andnbsp; And, the best option will not be the same for each child or family.
Talking to the teacher beforehand will let you know:
- The expectations on your child
- The expectations on you: for example, driving your child to and from lessons, setting up for online lessons,andnbsp; purchasing or printing materials, etc.
- The cost both upfront and ongoing
- What happens in between lessons (linked to expectations)
- What lessons look like
NOTE: While I write “lesson” and “teacher”, these can easily be switched out for “practice”, game” or “coach” depending on the activity.
What is your why?
As a parent myself, I understand wanting to provide your child with the best possible opportunities.andnbsp; But even I have had to back off with my own children when it was clear they had no interest in a new extracurricular activity I thought they would benefit from learning.andnbsp; Or, when it was about me wanting to share the experience with my child.
If your child has no interest in learning a particular instrument, sport or type of dance,andnbsp;andnbsp;look at why it is so important your child be enrolled in that particular activity.
Must Love Music was named very carefully.andnbsp; While students will have an ebb and flow in their learning, they are in this studio because they love music.andnbsp; After all, the students are the ones doing the practice, putting in the effort and stretching their brains as they learn new concepts.
I have lost count of the number of times my children have been reminded to brush their teeth, pack a water bottle for school, put their best effort into homework, and so much more.andnbsp; Of course, playing with friends or playing video games is more interesting!andnbsp; But, that doesn’t mean basic tasks don’t need to be completed.andnbsp; As a parent, it is my responsibility to push them in those areas so they will one day be able to take care of themselves.
We have enough ‘battles to fight’ on a daily basis without adding an extracurricular activity our child clearly has had no interest in even starting to the mix.
And remember, there is no reason YOU are unable to take those lessons yourself!andnbsp; Perhaps your child will be inspired by your commitment.
Which are the best extracurricular activities?
The differences between music lessons, sports and dance are there.andnbsp; But, this is what makes them unique!
My husband and I have learnt the hard way our children typically do better with one-on-one instruction (or in their case, both of them plus their instructor).andnbsp; Swim classes in a group were a flop.andnbsp; With a instructor just for them, they thrived.andnbsp; They want and need one-on-one attention.
Whatever activities you choose, keep your child involved in those discussions.andnbsp; Having a say in what happens with their ‘free time’ outside of school makes a world of difference.
As part of your discussion, make sure you and your child know the responsibilities you each will have. If you are not able or willing to be involved each week, an activity may need to go to the side for now.
And, if those discussions lead to online piano lessons … let’s make sure everyone is happy before a commitment is made!
What are the biggest factors in which extracurricular activities you choose for your children? Let me know in the comments below!