For most parents, raising a child is a beautiful but challenging experience. When your child is shy or introverted, one of those challenges might be encouraging them to participate in extracurricular activities. You want them to have fun and be social, but you also want them to join programs that will help them develop the social and emotional skills they need to succeed later in life.
Luckily, several activities that your child may naturally be interested in can promote these skills. Here are six extracurricular activities that can help your kids develop a sense of social and emotional maturity.
Music is an excellent outlet for people of all ages, but it’s an especially useful activity for a child’s development. For example, one recent study has discovered that children who participated in group music and movement exercises had better group cooperation, cohesion and prosocial behavior than the group that did not participate in the music-related activities.
If your kid shows an interest in music, it’s in their best interest to let them pursue it. Whether they participate in a music-related program at school or sign up for private lessons to learn to play an instrument, music is one extracurricular activity that has countless benefits — including improved social and emotional maturity.
Dance is an excellent activity for kids who want — or need — more exposure to working with a group. And, of course, it’s perfect for kids who love to move! Dancing has several benefits, such as improved social awareness, cognitive development and emotional maturity. By allowing them to express their emotions creatively and become more aware of themselves and their movement, dance promotes psychological health and maturity for kids of all ages.
If your child never seems to sit still, you might need an extracurricular activity that works their bodies just as much as it works their minds. Depending on your kid’s age, interests and skills, sports like football, basketball, golf, tennis and more are all great choices — though golf is one option that brings a bit more to the table regarding emotional and social development.
Golf contributes to a child’s emotional maturity because it encourages them to develop an accurate perspective and focus on big-picture thinking. It also promotes concentration, good sportsmanship and self-confidence.
Is your son or daughter continually doing cartwheels and summersaults all around the house? What about front flips on the trampoline? Gymnastics may be the perfect outlet for them — and it’s an excellent way to boost emotional and social maturity. Depending on your child’s age, gymnastics instructors will focus on specific activities that contribute to the appropriate type of development they should be experiencing.
For example, a class of 3-year-olds might focus on the social skills of helping others, sharing, and listening politely, as well as fundamental skills like swinging, rolling, balancing and jumping. Meanwhile, 5-year-old groups would likely introduce additional social situations like partner exercises, relays and other group games. Thanks to their improved attention spans, learning capability and flexibility, 5-year-olds might also dive deeper into developing their gymnastic skills and strength.
5. Martial Arts
Martial arts is one extracurricular activity that might concern some parents. However, the illusion that enrolling kids in martial arts programs would encourage violence couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact, practicing martial arts is one of the best ways for kids to develop their self-confidence, social skills, concentration, problem-solving skills and responsibility.
Most martial arts classes are set up in a class format, encouraging students to work together to learn a variety of techniques. Kids are always working together to learn new skills from their teacher, as well as share techniques and tips with one another. Thanks to this sense of collaboration, children involved in martial arts can have fun while also developing their teamwork and social skills.
6. Academic Clubs
Maybe you’ve got a kid who loves science or math. Their school probably has academic clubs they can join, such as the chemistry club, math club, reading club or more. For younger kids, Envirothon is a great way to allow them to explore several categories within environmental science, which is a continually growing field.
Just because your kid isn’t interested in music or sports doesn’t mean they have to be completely anti-social. Academic clubs are the perfect way for your children to interact and socialize with other kids who are interested in the same things as them.
Let Your Child Choose the Activity That Speaks to Them
Keep in mind that the extracurricular activity your child wants to do might not be on this list, but that doesn’t mean it won’t benefit their social and emotional maturity in some way. Start by asking your kids what they are interested in. Then, do your research based on their answers to find an activity that both benefits their mind and interests them. Chances are, the things they genuinely want to do have advantages you may have never considered before.