At age four, we’ve fallen in love with soccer, and now martial arts, crowding our schedule with activities that teach great lessons of teamwork and discipline, and filling up our summer days with car rides to facilities and parks overflowing with parents and children. During these times of fun and growth, how can we ensure that our summer days won’t begin to resemble the hectic, stress-induced activities equated with the regular school year?
Make sure your schedule allows you to get your child to the activity regularly. There’s nothing worse than getting your littles all excited for an activity or event, and then discovering the logistics of getting them to their designated location, or attending regular practices or meetings, will cause stress or strain on the family.
Give your littles the opportunity to test-drive all activities of interest. The younger they are, the easier it is for our little ones to change their minds – often drastically. Investigate each activity your child is interested in, and see if the facilities offer trial periods. This will help your child determine what’s right for them – and it can be a financial saver for the family.
Encourage something new. Summer allows us the freedom to explore. Seek out new businesses, restaurants, activities, and tourist-like locations locally, and within short driving distances, that will allow your kids to have different experiences. If your child likes music, look for plays and musicals, or kid-friendly concerts. If your child is outdoorsy and active, many cities within just a few hours’ drive can provide great background for renting bikes and taking in the scenery as a family.
Boost confidence. The younger they are, the more confidence-boosting needed for kids entering new sports or trying new activities. As they get their feet wet, be sure to give advice lightly and play up everything they’re doing well – in detail.
Don’t force it. Ballet may have been your thing when you were young, but your own child may enjoy getting dirty and sliding into home plate on the softball field instead. There’s a delicate balance between ensuring your child isn’t giving up, and forcing them into an activity they’re not really meant to do. Let them discover their own passions!