Imagine this: You’re back at home at 28, it was a stressful day at work but you finally have time to do something fun this weekend, you’ve been waiting for this so bad that you want to enjoy these activities at its fullest, but there’s a problem, you have no idea of what the heck you’re going to do!
If you're like me, you know that it's important to start nurturing children's abilities early on so they can benefit from them in adulthood.
Between the ages of 3 and 10, kids learn essential skills, like how to control their bodies, talk, read, do math, and analyze the behavior of others. My 5-year-old son learns at an absurd pace and his brain is like a sponge! Do you imagine learning at that pace as an adult?
So why wait until they're older to start giving them the tools they need to learn? Now is the perfect time for them to explore and try new things.
As a father of an extremely energetic 5-year-old boy and the director of a chess academy for kids, I've learned a lot from my own experience and from talking to our clients about their children's favorite after-school activities, and I'm here to help you find the best after-school activity for your children. Let's get started!
Why are after-school activities good?
Though most people won’t enroll their children in afterschool tennis to become the next Federer, having hobbies as a kid can be beneficial for their success and happiness in adulthood.
I’ve gone through this many times in my life as a young adult: having time to spend after long hours of work, but not knowing how to spend it! Or worse yet, only having unhealthy behaviors as the go-to source for weekends.
I've experienced this dilemma far too many times in my life as a young adult. After putting in endless hours at work throughout the week, I find myself faced with an open schedule and no clue how to fill it. That's when I stumbled upon a book called "The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything." Now, I admit, the title may sound cheesy, but trust me, it provides valuable insights into the learning process. This book taught me that what we choose to exercise is what we ultimately become powerful at. It emphasizes the power of deliberate practice and claims that by dedicating just 20 hours to focused learning, we can surpass 70% of the population in any given skill. The author even shares a hilarious anecdote about his own experience learning various musical instruments, like the banjo, in just two weeks each.
Another remarkable example of accelerated learning can be found in the book "Ultralearning." In this insightful read, they explore how individuals have successfully mastered an entirely new language every three months! These incredible feats are a testament to the potential within us to continually expand our knowledge and capabilities if we approach learning with dedication and strategic planning.
After-school activities can be a toolbox of skills and passions for your children to employ and enjoy in their adulthood. Just imagine growing up and not having anything to do on weekends more than the usual partying and binge-watching Netflix.
Supplementary to homeschooling and school
When it comes to children's development, after-school activities serve as a toolkit for them to cultivate valuable skills and discover their passions, while having fun in the process.
They provide children with opportunities to explore various interests, develop essential life skills, build resilience, foster social connections, and enhance overall well-being. By participating in such activities, children can lay a strong foundation for future success and fulfillment in their adult lives.
It’s experimental learning
One of the key aspects of these activities is that they offer experimental learning. Take the example of implementing tennis into your life. Whether you have a reason to play frequently with friends or coaches or simply enjoy joining your parents on the weekends, having a tangible connection to the activity makes it more likely to "stick" and become a valuable part of your life. Additionally, when the activity aligns with your personal interests and goals, such as achieving a stronger body or meeting new people by joining a club, it becomes even more relevant and meaningful.
As I like to say "You don't learn how to ride a bike at seminars"
What's a good after-school activity for your children
I don’t know if the “best” afterschool activity exists, so I encourage you to look at it from your individual perspective, this can help guide you in choosing which one is best for your case:
Find a balance between physical and cognitive after-school activities
It's not about choosing one or the other, but about how much time and money you can spend on each. Focusing on just one type of activity is not a good idea, because both physical and cognitive development are important.
It all depends on your child's personality and goals. After-school activities are only worth it if they help your child improve on skills and interests that they already have. For example, if your child is good at debate, math, and logical thinking, chess lessons could be a great way for them to improve those skills, in which case you could save money on physical activities like biking. On the other hand, if your child is naturally good at sports like swimming and is already excelling, it might be better to focus on helping them improve their physical skills with paid lessons and activities and find free intellectual activities to do at home.
Identify if you have an “outdoorsy” or “indoorsy” kid
To identify if you have an indoorsy or outdoorsy child, pay attention to their preferences and behaviors. Do they enjoy spending time inside, reading, playing video games, or doing other activities that don't require a lot of physical activity? Or do they prefer to be outside, playing sports, hiking, biking, or doing other activities that involve being active?
How do they react to being outside? Do they get excited and energized, or do they seem bored or restless?
How do they do in physical activities? If they're not very interested in sports or other physical activities, they're probably more indoorsy.
It's important to note that there is no right or wrong answer. Some children are naturally more indoorsy, while others are more outdoorsy. It's important to let your child choose the activities that they enjoy and that make them happy.
7 Cool after-school activities for outdoorsy kids
In this blog post from The Educators Spin on it you will find a great list of activities that focus on outdoor play, but this short one is contains my favorites:
Soccer: The good old beautiful game never fails when it comes to physical activity. I’ve seen my son play until exhaustion, drop almost dead on the couch, sleep for 10 hours, and wake up the next day mad because he wants to play again. Soccer is a safe, nurturing, and fun activity for kids.
Swimming: Personally my favorite activity, there’s no other sport that helps you strengthen your body and respiratory system like swimming, but it’s not perfect for people with strong winters as the long pause can ruin the habit.
Hiking: Exercise and nature make you happy, it’s proven that the sound of wind, water flowing, and birds can improve cognition and reduce stress levels. Combine it with a good walk and some Vitamin D with from the sun and we’re down for a great day!
Fishing: I'm not the kind of parent that enjoys fishing but I see it’s very popular!
Basketball: If your kid is a bit more into contact sports, basketball is a great choice for them! This is such a demanding and skill-based game that makes me admire all of the professional players of it.
Skating: Though a bit more risky, skating can be a great sport for your kid. You wouldn’t believe how physically demanding and fun it can be and with the right protection and supervision, skating can do a lot for your kids’ health.
Gardening: Want to be outside but not a fan of exhaustion? Gardening is an awesome way to spend your time learning and taking care of the environment.
7 Cool after-school activities for indoorsy kids
Here’s another good source of inspiration for indoor activities from Splashlearn. Here are our favorites:
Chess: Duuh, the ancient game is more popular than ever, and for a reason! For centuries it has been proven to help with cognition and strategic thinking, as well as being an engaging and fun activity for millions of people.
Computer science: Now it’s the time to learn about how computers think! Believe it or not, computing science and code are really fun and interesting, you only have to find the right courses and lessons.
Zumba: The only bad thing that can come out of this is some unsolicited video recording of you dancing with your child in the living room, which will stay as a funny family memory for years to come 😂
Engineering: If your child loves to create (and sometimes destroy) things to understand how they work, the best gift you can give them is systematic learning about how to understand those things.
Art: On the other hand, if your child has more of an artistic and visual way of interpreting the world around them, is a good idea to give them tools to express their thoughts in an artistic way.
Magic: Making friends is just easier and more rewarding when you have awe-inspiring skills to show! It’s also fun to see people’s faces when you show them a cool trick.
Cooking: Learning how to cook is much more important than you might think! Also, it’s really fun for some kids just to explore and see what they can come up with in the kitchen. Something many of us wish to have learned entering college 😂
Do kids need after-school activities every day?
Not at all, unless it shows a positive impact on the kid’s physical and mental health. Not everyone is hyperactive and in need of constant stimulation to feel well. Resting is as important as the activity itself.
The exception is a very competitive kid with a high drive for mastery, in which case it’s a very intelligent move to help them do more of what they love and are the most proficient at.
6 Great platforms for kids to learn at home
Specially recommended for younger children, chesskid offers a variety of free resources for kids. They teach with a storytelling approach through games and puzzles made to be fun and engaging.
A more holistic approach to learning, though their free courses and puzzles are great for all ages, it just depends on the kid
If you're looking for 1-to-1 instruction and tournaments to put those skills into practice, look no further than the top left corner of your screen 😁
Math and computer science
Even though it’s not free, they offer a 7-day trial and their monthly rate is only $13. Master concepts that will help your kid understand more about what goes behind the scenes in our digital world! This is an amazing platform for 6+ aged kids.
If you’re looking for resources to teach your kids, one of the best places you can start is Education.com. They have an immense library of worksheets, activities, courses, and games you can filter by grade and subject!
Simply one of the best online learning platforms for all ages. Lea
If your kid is engaged in reading or simply lagging behind the class, we highly recommend trying Epic. They have a very epic library of books and resources for your child to develop a true love for reading.
reading. If you're looking to enter your younger child into reading, this is a good alternative to Epic. They offer a 30-day free trial so you can go ahead and try it!
Educational games for kids
Educational and fun videogames for kids (Ones that they actually enjoy)
Videogames will never get old! No matter what they say about the bad effects of videogames, it all comes down to what games you play and the communities you join. As a gaming enthusiast, “conossieur” and father, I recommend the following ones:
This is my personal favorite since it has such a wide variety of ways to play it creatively, a healthy and supportive community and the cost is very low. Here are some tips and advice on how to find a good Minecraft community for your kid and how the game works.
By some mysterious set of events, you and your friends were shrunk to an ant’s size. Now it’s your job to find what caused it and how to go back to your normal life, but first, you will have to combat hundreds of bugs and puzzles before you manage to get out of the backyard. This is a game you can play cooperatively and it's very fun.
Terraria is a 2D sandbox game where players explore a procedurally generated world, mine for resources, craft items, build structures, and fight monsters. The game has no set goals, so players are free to do whatever they want. The game is very creative, and it encourages kids to use their imaginations to build and explore.
As the name suggests, this is an online golf game that you can play with friends. The cool thing about this game is that the levels are very creative, the difficulty increases as you progress and it’s just fun overall.
5. Portal 2
This is a first-person puzzle game where players solve puzzles by placing portals and teleporting between them. Players can also use a variety of other tools and objects to solve puzzles, such as lasers, light bridges, and paint-like gels that alter player movement. Although not very child-oriented, this is one of my all-time favorites for people who love to solve puzzles and good storytelling.
Stardew Valley is a farming simulator game where players inherit a rundown farm from their grandfather and must restore it to its former glory. Players can plant crops, raise animals, and fish, mine, and explore the surrounding town.
Stardew Valley is a relaxing and wholesome game. There is no violence or gore in it, and the overall tone is positive and optimistic. Additionally, the game is very forgiving, so kids don't have to worry about making mistakes.
You’re in for a ride! This game is simply nerve-wracking and too difficult for most adults, but for kids, this can be one of the best games ever. Though there’s not much to learn from it, kids can still benefit from this skill-based game by sharpening their motor skills and reaction time.
Videogames for kids to avoid (take with a grain of salt)
Roblox: the community servers are filled with trolls, toxic and unsupervised children, mature content, and explicit language and it’s very hard to control this stuff as a parent.
Fortnite: don’t get me wrong here, this an awesome game, but its fast-paced and immediate reward system doesn’t do much more than being addicting for kids.
Among Us: it just gets old really quick and the mechanics are too simple. Though it’s great to play with friends, not so much with strangers on the internet
Welp! That's all I got for now. Make sure you check our blog and website for more 🤩