After more than 20 years of experience in the Non-Formal Education sector, also called extracurricular activities, I have been able to observe the great evolution that this part of education has developed, both in the part of the professionalization of the sector, and in the educational intention of the activities, and in the variety, novelty and research in the different proposals that are presented each year to the educational community. Yet I keep watching some mistakes parents make when enrolling their children in after-school activities. And it is that, in my opinion, wrong criteria are taken into account when choosing one or the other.
These are some of the mistakes that I think many parents make when choosing what class or activity their child is going to attend after school is over.
1. What I like
Here we have the most common mistake, and that is that parents tend to think that our children, just for the fact of being them, like the same thing that we do.
The example that is most repeated in this case, and that will sound familiar to all of us, is the one with the father who points his son to the soccer team because he is in love with that sport. Without going into more details, this is the clearest example: the child has just turned 4 years old and is already dressed as a footballer with hardly any physical pattern of movement acquired. It is only a projection of the adult on the child.
2. What I think is good for him or her
Obviously we are their parents and we know them better than anyone else, but we make the mistake of enrolling them in activities that are supposedly beneficial on a cognitive or physical level, but which are selected at an early stage of the student, and as a general rule they do not prosper and produce rejection. I mean the type of activities such as Chinese or German classes, mathematics with abacus, robotics, etc. than at a very young age they are not usually generating habits or consolidated knowledge.
3. Do something different each course
There are parents who, with the desire for them to know more, or accumulate more types of experiences, point their children to various activities, and each year they change so that the child knows more and does not get bored.
In my opinion, this criterion is very unproductive, since the result is that the child does not learn from any of these activities, nor does he end up valuing them enough. This criterion connects directly with the next point.
4. I get carried away by the novelty
Indeed, it is closely linked to the previous one. It is true that the demand and existing competition cause that every year various novel activities. Many are very good and really fun, but if my criterion is novelty, my son will not gain knowledge in other activities.
5. Let friends go together
This is a very clear case that we can all identify: the group of parents who want their children to go together to the same activity or camp. As a pedagogue, I am very much in favor of group activities, team sports, but in this case the criteria are wrong.
In a group of friends, not everyone has the same interests, degree of interest in a hobby or passion for a discipline. To subordinate the individual interest to the group can slow the growth of a child in another activity or discipline.
Example: A group of 5 friends who have signed up for basketball, surely they all do not like it the same, not all play the same and it is possible that there is even a case in which some of them do not like it and only go because they want to go with her friends so as not to be left out.
At this point, you may be wondering what you can do to avoid all these wrong criteria and choose an after-school activity that favors your children.
The best, and I always influence the same, is ask our children. What do you like? What interests you? How do you see yourself in a few months in this activity? Do you already know something about this? Do you think it is good for you for something in your day to day?
And as always, be aware and interested in how their interests and hobbies evolve.
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