For some parents, our kids are physically at school. While for others, our kids are home taking classes online.
Either way, we are all looking for safe afterschool activities for our children. And the safest place for afterschool activities is at home.
One obvious option for parents is to explore which of their kid’s pre-pandemic afterschool activities has an online equivalent. What other options do we have?
The following tips and our experience will hopefully help you find online, afterschool activities that your kids will enjoy.
Eight Tips to Help Parents Choose an Online After-School Activity
Choosing an online afterschool activity is a new experience for many parents. We are used to going to a trial class, meeting the instructor, and deciding afterward. The goal of these eight tips is to help parents through the process of finding and then managing online afterschool activities for their children.
Tip #1 Find an online afterschool activity that matches your child’s interest. And let them choose which activity they want to do if possible.
What does your child like to do?
Perhaps they are too young to know for themselves. When our daughter was three years old, we watched how she engaged the world and made a few choices. Our kid is physically active, so we started with activities like dance, karate, and gymnastics.
As our kids grow up, their interests become more evident. With our daughter, we’ve found that sometimes one activity, like guitar lessons, leads to the next activity, her current love for the piano.
The big idea in this first tip is to provide our child with choices, if possible. Making choices is a human drive, and sooner or later, they will need to know how to make good choices for themselves. Check out my previous blog, Giving Our Kids Choices—Providing Choices to Our Kids During Summer Break, to learn why giving options helps build trust and mutual respect, develop self-confidence, and diffuses needless power struggles.
Tip #2 Be prepared for your child to change their mind about an online afterschool activity.
When our children are young, many experts point to around 12 years old or younger, it’s totally natural, actually developmentally appropriate, for your child to quit an activity they’re not connecting with.
My advice is to prepare yourself beforehand. I know it can be frustrating for parents to let a child quit an activity after investing time and money. Still, the general consensus is to let your child try several activities. This way, by the time they are a teenager, they’ve found their passion and are ready to focus on one or two afterschool activities.
Check out my previous blog, Why It’s Ok for Your Kids to Quit- Six Tips to Help Parents React Positively and Build Trust for a more in-depth discussion.
Tip #3 Find an online after school activity that engages both their mind and body.
One of our daughter’s more difficult afterschool activities is her twice a week Hindi class. For the most part, she sits in one place and now communicates with her tutor through the tablet. Before the pandemic, they met face to face.
Kids need to move. Especially if they have finished a day at school in person or at home on the tablet, chances are, they’re ready to expend some energy.
Keep this in mind when scheduling an activity that’s less active than an online karate class. Before Hindi class, we usually let our daughter eat a snack, have some playtime, or go outside to ride her bike. After Hindi class, she is also usually ready to play.
Tip #4 Consider not scheduling an online activity immediately after school.
Kids need a break after returning home. And even if they’re already at home, they still need time to transition from school to an afterschool activity.
Changing clothes, sharing their day with you, and eating a snack is the kind of activity we want to make time for.
Tip #5 Find an online afterschool activity that fits your child’s preference for individual or group instruction.
For me, the best online afterschool instructors can work well with a group of kids and make each kid feel individually appreciated.
Most of our daughter’s post-pandemic instructors are great at this. In fact, I’ve watched all of her teachers (school and afterschool) improve their online instruction skills, the more they teach online.
But some kids are just better learning in a group. Some are better with one on one, or small group instruction.
Your kid might have a mix of both. For example, our daughter loves her gymnastics and ballet group classes, but gets easily distracted when learning the piano with more than one student. She needs one on one instruction.
Tip #6 Observe the first few online afterschool activities with your child.
Whenever your child starts a new online afterschool class, be sure to sit-in on the first few.
You will pick up quite soon what your child will like about the class and what will challenge them. If you can’t observe, see if your partner, sibling, or other family member or friend can follow.
We find that our daughter often finds part of a class that is challenging, confusing, or outright doesn’t like. While I’m a big believer in letting our children make choices, at the same time, we want them to at least give a class a chance. We can’t explain an activity or answer their questions if we don’t see the first few classes ourselves.
Once your child is established in the class’s routine, check-in with them to see how the activity is going, but be careful not to intrude. Now and then, sit down for a few minutes and email the instructor to get their perspective.
Tip #7 Ask for an online trial class or activity to observe with your child.
In Delhi, our normal process is to attend a trial activity. We’ve also observed classes online before signing up. Very helpful and highly recommended.
Tip #8 Has your family joined any pods yet?
Has your family joined any pods yet? You know, are there any families that you currently visit with and trust they will share any signs of Covid-19 with you?
There are two families in our enclave that both have kids around our daughter’s age.
One neighbor’s daughter, who is a year younger than our daughter, is taking a gymnastics class with my daughter. It’s been a lot of fun for them. We are always balancing staying healthy with being social, and this is an excellent way for our kids to be in touch with other friends while learning a cool skill.
If you have any tips or resources you’ve used to help your child adjust to online afterschool activities, please share in the comments below.