Tips on Choosing After School Activities

September isn't all about new class-mates and fresh pressed uniforms, it also unleashes a daily cascade of after-school activity fliers, but have you decided how you'll select this year's action-packed programmes?
Tips on Choosing After School Activities
By C Hoppe
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We're approaching that time of year again, when school bags return home on a daily basis literally bursting with fliers for every conceivable after-school activity.

But, how do you decide which activity your child should choose?

#1 Decide Your Budget

Of course, we would all like to afford one-to-one swim-coaching, coding/robotics with NASA astronauts and various equestrian pursuits for each and every child, however, for most of us, these after-school-aspirations are tempered by budget.

After-school activities don’t come cheap and the odd thing about prices is that they only ever seem to go up. While it is true many providers have tempered increases in fees in recent years, it is only set to get more costly.

Discuss the activity with the child, find out if they only want to participate because their new best friend is, or if they REALLY want to do it.

Why not choose one or two activities from an external provider and if your child still wants more, then it’s time to add in a few of the free activities provided by the school.

#2 Try Before You Buy

Don’t waste your money or the activity-providers time, by asking for a trial BEFORE you sign up for the full duration of the course.

Most of us have been there. Signed-up for a whole term only to find our child literally loathes the programme after week two, and really, who wants to beg an 8 year-old to attend something that's meant to be fun?

Try and attend the 'taster' with your child. That way you'll see if they are engaging with the activity and instructor or just attending to be with a friend. 

The Devils In The Details

This one is a no brainer really: Are the staff qualified? Do they have the correct equipment, insurance and first aid training?

If not, find another course...

The Logistics

Here in the UAE we all spend more than enough time in our cars, but add in a slew of after-school activities for two or more children and you can be looking at a logistical nightmare.

Check who else has joined up to the activity. Can you car share with other parents? Can your other child/children join another activity running at the same location and time?

Think through the logistics BEFORE you sign-up for that costly course.

The curse of after-school paraphilia

Let’s be honest, there can be few seasoned parents out there who don’t have a cupboard somewhere bursting with karate suits, Brownies outfits and the odd frayed tennis racket.

While its tempting to rush out and purchase that super-cute pink ballet kit or glorious tennis whites, wait!

There’s really no harm in them spending a few weeks or even a month in their PE kit or borrowing equipment from the school while you wait to see if they are really going to stick with the activity.

What's The Point?

After-school activities ask both you and your child to invest time, money and commitment. 

But what is it all ultimately for? Think about the motivations for joining a course. Is it for health and fitness? Learning something new? Are they following their true passion in life or... simply filling in time while you work?

Answer this question honestly, and everything else will fall into place...

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