Navigating The World Of Kids’ Extracurricular Activities


Navigating The World Of Kids' Extracurricular ActivitiesNavigating the world of kids’ extracurricular activities can be really fun, energizing, and meaningful. It can also be overwhelming and difficult to make decisions, discern between options, and navigate that line between giving kids opportunities and ensuring that there is some room to slow down and simply play.

Here are some things to consider:

Social Connectedness And Purpose

Activities can be a chance to foster a sense of community for your child reinforcing that they are part of something, whether it’s a sports team or an orchestra, a Scout troop, or a chess club, a church youth group, or an equestrian team. Even if it’s more of an individual interest, it still helps solidify competency, purpose, and self-worth. 

Enjoyment And Meaning

People all around you will be choosing various things, but what does your child want to try or do? What is most life-giving? What does your child actually enjoy? Big team sports are great, but if that’s not your child’s thing, cast the next wider. What are other activities that might appeal to your child? 

There also may be something that your child does not especially enjoy, but that you want for him or her to learn because it is so meaningful, whether it’s music appreciation or a certain skill or language, etc.

The Budget

Activities can add up quickly, so just keep that in mind if you have multiple children you are signing up for activities. If you need to consider activities at less cost, Chattanooga offers so many options through the local library, a once a month free evening at the Creative Discovery museum, and the Hunter museum offers free admission for kids, just to name a few options. Some activities will also offer scholarships or reduced rates if a need is made known, and many schools may provide some extracurricular options at little or no cost.


Activities can easily be every afternoon and evening of the week. How does this feel in your family? Pay attention to what you and the family needs. If a night or two or three would allow for some much needed slowing, then you can consider your yeses and your nos. Of all the activities out there, which are your priorities?

Keeping The Stakes Low

We keep the stakes low when we expose children to activities without so much pressure that they have to be the best in order to play the sport or do the activity. While some kids really excel at sports or arts, etc., there is value simply in doing something for enjoyment. Similarly for adults; we need things in our lives that are simply enjoyable, fostering fun, delight, growth, and creativity.

Permission To Switch Gears

This can be really tough especially when a lot of money and time have been invested in a certain activity, but remember just like in adulthood, sometimes we need permission to switch gears and change our minds. Activities can be reevaluated and reconsidered. Remember that you do not have to have it all pre-decided. You can discern again and again, one child at a time, one season at a time.

Your Voice Matters 

Your voice from the sidelines matters. In a culture that values performance, it’s easy for kids to feel a great deal of pressure to be perfect. What’s your voice on the subject? How can you elevate hard work, trying your best, or whatever you value, yet consider that it’s unrealistic for anyone to perform perfectly all the time.

Motivation, drive, encouragement, and excellence are all incredible values to help instill in kids. Demanding perfection and berating and shaming kids when they fall short in their performance can be really harmful. What voice and message do you want your kids to hear from you? How can you motivate and encourage without shaming them?

Activities can be a real gift, connecting children to each other and the community around them, and often connecting parents as well. Activities can provide both fun and enjoyment, growth and meaning. There is a real goodness in the gifts that they offer.

To read more about local activities, be sure to check out this guide. If you’re interested in reading more about cheap or free activities to do with kids, be sure to read this post. If you’re interested in the concept of margin as you navigate activities for your kids, read this post.


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