Our six-year-old daughter is currently taking classes online. We aren’t sure when our daughter’s school will open again. And to be honest, if the school announced it is reopening tomorrow, I would probably keep her at home.
Some of my friends are ready to send their children back to school, and others like me are either unsure or fearful of our child or a family member contracting Covid-19.
At the same time, I don’t know any parent who is ready for their child to resume football practice or swimming lessons. Most of us are still cautious: limiting how often we leave home, and when we do, we are sure to wear a mask, wash our hands, and maintain a social distance.
Unfortunately, most in-person afterschool activities place our children at increased risk of contracting COVID-10. With this in mind, the following are five excellent afterschool online activities our daughter and the kids of other families we know, are currently engaged.
Five Online Afterschool Activities to Consider During Covid-19
These are five activities our six-year-old daughter is currently or has participated in during the pandemic. Of course, every child is different, complete with their own interests. I hope my suggestions either help you evaluate if this activity is for your son or daughter or provide you more insight into making a choice.
Activity #1 Hindi or Other Online Afterschool Foreign Language Instruction
Our daughter is American but goes to a private India school. While the classes are taught in English, one of her major subjects is Hindi. When we enrolled her in school, we also started private Hindi lessons twice a week.
After the school closed because of COVID-19 and we switched to online classes, our Hindi instructor also adapted and offered to continue class online. We agreed, but I wasn’t sure how this would work, since Hindi is the current class out of all her classes that she struggles with from time to time.
While our daughter had a few problems the first few sessions, I adjusted my work schedule at home to be in the room with her during the class. She complained she found the class boring or too difficult. An important tip is to stay in touch with the instructor, in our case, the Hindi tutor. Remaining in the room with my daughter, while her tutor adjusted her instruction technique, has definitely helped. We also need to remember both our child and their instructor is adapting. Learning how to communicate online takes time and practice.
I can also report that working one on one with her language tutor has not only continued to improve her Hindi, at this point the online classes have become natural for both my daughter and her tutor.
Activity #2 Gymnastics or Other Sports Related Online Afterschool Activity
Our daughter’s current favorite activity is gymnastics. She’s practiced with an organization and amazing coach since she was four years old.
Her coach in Delhi around April reached out to her students and began offering classes online. Like her Hindi lessons, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work online. I’m happy to report, after three months, practicing gymnastics at home has become almost as natural as going to the gym. Everyone wants to be back in the gym, but I’m so glad we didn’t remain too pessimistic and not try.
During the pandemic our daughter has actually picked up quite a few new skills. We put the tablet on floor level so her coach can see her form. Often her coach will show a YouTube clip, or ask one of the more experienced gymnasts to model a new move. The six or seven girls in the group have also become fast friends.
Our daughter’s coach is great at observing the group as they go through their stretches and exercises, while calling each one by name for advice or reinforce what they are doing. One of the best qualities for a successful online instructor is to manage the group, while also providing here and there individual instruction to each student.
Of course, there are limits to the kinds of sport you can do online. I’m not sure how you would go about practicing cricket or football. But other sports like karate would work well. If your child’s favorite sport isn’t feasible, perhaps see if there’s another sport they are curious about that can work with the online format.
Activity #3 Ballet or Other Dance/Performance Related Online Afterschool Activity
Ballet functions a lot like gymnastics. It’s a small group of 5 or 6 girls. The tablet is on the floor so the ballet teacher can see their footwork. The ballet teacher is great at managing the group as a whole and encouraging each girl when they need a push.
Ballet or any time of dance or performance related activities is a great fit as an online afterschool activity. In Delhi we have options from ballet, to hip hop, to traditional Kathak dance. Ballet, or any form of dance, like gymnastics, when done in a small group, can also be an opportunity for your child to socialize. Something we all need during these times.
Activity #4 Piano or Other Musical Instrument Related Online Afterschool Activity
Our daughter started piano about a year ago with another child her age. The instructor traveled to our house and he split time between the two kids.
Once the pandemic hit, the piano instructor couldn’t come, so the lessons stopped.
About a month ago though, we reached out to another music teacher, we knew from a prior program our daughter participated in, to see if she was free to do online piano lessons.
She was available and for the past month our daughter sits at our piano while her music teacher coaches her the hand exercises through our tablet. Her teacher can easily move her camera from her face to her piano so our daughter can see what she is doing.
There’s no reason why your child can’t continue music lessons or find a new instructor who is specializing in online instruction. It does work with the right teacher.
We’ve also discovered that while gymnastics and ballet work well for our daughter in small groups, Hindi and piano work best with one on one instruction.
Activity #5 What Does Your Child Love to Do?
These are the four online activities our daughter is currently involved in. Before the pandemic she was also active in karate, swimming, and voice lessons. Swimming is not a safe activity. And karate and voice lessons proved too much and one of the instructors didn’t offer an online option. In addition, some instructors are simply better than others in making the transition from in-person to online lessons.
My best advice for parents is to be patient and flexible. Be willing to make changes when an activity isn’t working and focus on exploring what it is your child loves to do. Again, the pandemic could be a great opportunity to introduce your child to a new activity like coding. Don’t be fixated on how long they stick with coding. We are exploring and exposing our child to a number of activities to see what they gravitate to.
In turn, ask other parents close to you what they are doing for afterschool online activities. If there are families you’ve become a pod with, meaning, you visit each other and trust they are also staying safe, then see what their children are doing after school. Discovering an activity kids from both families are into also provides opportunities to socialize.
If you have any tips, learned wisdom, or other resources about online afterschool activities, please share in the comment section below.