Parents seeking positive, meaningful extracurricular activities for their children may struggle to identify the right programs for their kids, especially if busy family schedules limit options. While many youth programs help children socialize and learn new skills, some go further to help shape who kids may become as adults.
When choosing activities for young children, consider the following:
• Diverse experiences: Keep things interesting and engaging for your child. Select programs that offer a range of activities and adventures.
• Talented volunteers or staff: Ask, “What type of training do volunteers and staff members receive?” The answer to this is key as you help ensure your child will be mentored by positive role models.
• Program values: Learn what the organization’s goals are, how it teaches children about building character and good citizenship, and how it helps youth explore their goals.
• Scheduling: Extracurricular activities can be time consuming. Find out what meetings and activities are required to ensure the program works for your family.
• Starting now: Today’s parents are more likely to engage their children in activities at a younger age, according to a survey by Forrester. Consider enrolling your children in extracurricular activities early, perhaps even before formal education begins. This can help foster their long-term development.
Still not sure what activities are right for your children? One choice with compelling outcomes is Scouting. Kids who participate in Scouting exhibit strong moral values and positive character attributes, allowing them to embrace new opportunities, overcome obstacles and become better prepared for future success, suggests a study of kids age 6 to 12 conducted by Tufts University.
For this reason, parents looking to create a strong foundation of leadership, service, and community in their children may consider Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. While many people associate these programs with camping and outdoor adventures, the Boy Scouts of America also offers programs for youth with other unique interests. Here are some highlights:
• Lion: This pilot program for 5 and 6-year-old or kindergarten-age boys and their parents, combines concepts of character development, leadership skills, personal fitness and citizenship, with age-appropriate, fun activities.
• STEM Scouts: To keep pace with the growing importance of STEM-related careers, the STEM Scouts pilot program helps boys and girls in grades 3 through 12 learn more about science, technology, engineering and math through interactive, hands-on activities and experiments.
• Exploring: The expanded Exploring program offers young men and women ages 14-20, real-world career experiences that help build confidence and discover interests in fields like law enforcement, firefighting, aviation, engineering, and medicine.
Learn more about Scouting programs and how to get involved in your community at beascout.org.
Before enrolling in a program, it’s important to ensure the time is well spent. Do your research and seek out programs that help your child build character and have fun in the process.