From astronomy to bug hunting, pottery to gardening, here are some interesting offbeat activities that you could engage your child in after school.
By Leena Ghosh
If your child is in primary school, he has learnt a few life skills by now. His imagination, curiosity and adaptability have grown by leaps and bounds and he has become better at problem-solving. He can also express himself clearly verbally and has learnt how to write.
This stage in your child’s life is crucial because his understanding of the world and how it works has increased, yet his innocence and curiosity make him an eager learner. This is the time when you mould your child’s character and lay the foundation for him to become a smart, caring and responsible individual. And, the after-school activities he takes part in, play a significant role.
To make sure your child benefits the most from his after-school programmes you need to choose the right one based on his skills. According to a study titled ‘Afterschool Programs That Follow Evidence-Based Practices to Promote Social and Emotional Development Are Effective,’ by Joseph A. Durlak and Roger P. Weissberg published on expandinglearning.org, not all after-school programmes are effective in developing a child’s social and emotional skills. The study stated that the after-school programmes that followed the recommended SAFE approach were the most effective. A SAFE approach was identified as ‘whether or not the program staff used a Sequenced step-by-step training approach (S), emphasised Active forms of learning by having youth practice new skills (A), Focused specific time and attention on skill development (F) followed Evidence-based practices to promote social and emotional development and were explicit in defining the skills they were attempting to promote (E).
The researchers further observed that ‘SAFE programs were associated with significant improvements in self-perceptions, school bonding and positive social behaviours; significant reductions in conduct problems and drug use; and significant increases in achievement test scores, grades and school attendance. The group of other programs failed to yield significant improvements on any of these outcomes.’
We give you a list of offbeat activities that you can introduce to your child and see her learn some new skills and learn a lot in the process.
Pottery: Pottery can help your child become calmer, teach him to focus and be creative. Working with clay is known to be soothing and helps in the development of his sensory and motor skills.
Build a gardening scrapbook: Explore the garden with your child and help her collect an assortment of leaves and flowers of different colours and sizes. Stick the leaves and flowers on a scrapbook and label them based on their botanical family. Also, ask her to write down trivia about each plant or flower on her scrapbook. This activity will not only be fun for her but also introduce her to the world of environmental science.
Tag-Team Drawing: This is a fun activity that requires equal participation from the parent as well as the child. Develop a storyline or pick up one of the classics and draw the story as you tell it. Take turns at drawing the story and see your child perform at his creative best.
Sound quiz: Record different sounds in and around your house – from the sound of a mixer to the call of a bird or an animal near your house. Play the recording and ask your child to recognise the different sounds. Give her a treat for each correct answer.
Bug hunting: If you or your child is not a squeamish, this is a fun activity to do that also provides a learning opportunity for him. Go around your garden or your neighbourhood. Collect bugs in different jars. Label them and teach him about the life cycle of that bug or insect. Do remember to release them later into their original habitat.
Make a shopping list: Making your child aware of the different household needs and chores, develops in her a sense of responsibility as well as belonging. Ask her to help you write a shopping list for the week and write down items, category wise. Include her suggestions, so she feels like she’s contributing.
Join a club: Whether it’s astronomy or embroidery, engage your child by making him join an activity club. This way, not only will he learn about the subject but also get opportunities to engage in team work. Some interesting clubs he could join are gardening club, astronomy club, woodwork club, geography club and handicraft-making club.
Let your child experiment with different activities to know which ones suit her best. Observe her interests and help her develop them creatively and learn new skills, in the process.
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