Going back to school can be a big adjustment for kids, and it can be an even bigger adjustment when you factor in extracurriculars, sports and after-school activities. Getting your kids involved can be helpful to their growth and development both physically and socially. Whether it’s soccer practice, dance class or drama club, after-school or weekend activities, allow your child to explore their interests, make friends and have fun.
Fall is a season of change, and it’s important to help your child transition to their new schedule. These tips can help make sure your child is ready to get involved:
Plan ahead and stay organized
Before the first few weeks of school get away from us, spend some time ensuring that your child’s schedule is manageable for you, your partner, and any other children you have. Taping a calendar up on the refrigerator and communicating with everyone in advance are great techniques to keep your family on the same page. Seize the opportunity to teach your child about time management skills by making the calendar together.
Establishing a routine with your children is key to cooperation. To streamline your morning, try setting aside 15 minutes before bed to pack a bag for the next day. It will give you time to locate any missing shin guards or dance shoes, and can also teach your children the importance of being prepared.
Work with your child to pack healthy snacks
When you include your child in packing their snacks, you create an opportunity to teach them about healthy eating habits. Guiding their choices rather than dictating them is essential to creating a positive relationship between your child and his or her healthy choices. Aim to strike a balance between something that will fuel your child through their day and something they actually want to eat. Take their feedback – the foods they devoured and those they left untouched – and apply it. By doing so, they will begin to take on a sense of pride and responsibility for making the right choices alongside you.
Talk about self-care
It’s important to have discussions with your child to make sure they understand how to practice healthy habits. Explain why your child needs to listen to their body and how they can ensure they’re in tip-top shape. Sometimes, children get so excited for an activity that they forget to drink water or stretch before practice, which can drastically impact how your child is feeling and affect their motivation to keep going. Also, make sure they know their bedtime is non-negotiable so they’re well-rested. By explaining the importance of a healthy lifestyle, it provides a rationale rather than “because I said so.”
Encourage practice, even on days off
Practice makes perfect. When your child isn’t at practice, you can encourage them to continue working on their skills every day. This doesn’t mean that they have to do it by themselves. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity for some family bonding time. Keep everyone active and involved by suggesting a weekly soccer game before dinner or setting up chairs in the living room and encouraging your child to show off his or her progress in dance class. This involvement can also help older children set an example for their younger siblings to follow.
Don’t overdo it
Stay realistic about your child’s ability to keep up with multiple after-school or weekend activities. Try to stick to only one or two activities per season, and ask them how they feel at the end of the day. It’s always easier to add activities than take them away. Balance is key — and that extends to parents as well. Know when to rely on additional support from friends, grandparents and neighbors.
Fall can be a rough transition, but there are plenty of solutions and tactics to ensure that keeping your child involved in activities year-round is possible.