Parents may want their children's leisure activities to have an educational component, or at least some character-building qualities, while kids may just want to play during their leisure time. Many activities, though, can match both sets of expectations, so children can feel that they're getting some real "down time", and parents can relax, knowing that those off-hours are being well spent.
Organized sports for kids has sometimes gotten a bad rap, because of a minority of obnoxious coaches and parents who ruin what should be a fun day of playing ball. The truth is, a recreational sports program for children can provide a host of benefits, including regular physical activity, friendship opportunities, potential lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship and goal-setting, and the personal rewards that come from learning a new skill. Just remember that there are plenty of other sports beyond the football, basketball, baseball and soccer options. Talk with your kids about their interests and see if there are programs for fencing, snowboarding, volleyball, track and field, tennis, golf and other activities.
Music lessons might be a tough sell for some parents, but as leisure activities go, music remains one of the most rewarding. Kids can learn skills they may use for the rest of their lives. The National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 noted that kids involved in music receive more academic honors, and generally higher grades. But don't think only of piano or guitar lessons. Think about what your kids like, and explore online and print ads for lessons in the saxophone, drums, the cello or the harmonica. Ask around at your local music store, as the shops that sell instruments often provide space for teachers to hold music classes.
Your kids may be content to draw with crayons and a sketch pad on the kitchen table, but if they had someone giving them tips about how to draw people, or how to use perspective and shadow, they might become more ambitious. Computer animation has also become a popular pastime, and your kids might enjoy taking a class at a local art store or community college. Who knows -- a week of summer art camp may be just what channels your child's talent into a career.
Adding lessons or practices into a child's busy week can be tricky, and requires to you to pay close attention to how your child is coping. It's important to remember that while the arts and sports and other activities, such as Scouts, youth groups and school clubs can be fun and rewarding, some time should be dedicated to unstructured play with friends, such as riding bikes, and just being a kid.
- Photo Credit drawing image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com