Extracurricular programs are a great way to integrate children with special needs into new settings, form friendships and have some fun. Children can gain a sense of pride and accomplishment by participating and succeeding in activities. Many benefit from the therapeutic value that engaging in recreation provides. Sports, art, music and dance may be highly reinforcing for some individuals. Some children prefer to engage in more leisurely activities such as reading. If you want your child to be truly successful, be certain that the activity is rewarding and has a positive effect on behavior, social skills or other areas of concern.
Beware though as some children tend to become “over booked”. While participating in programs outside of school can be a lot of fun, having too many activities scheduled throughout the week can be detrimental. Quantity over quality is never the solution. Your child would be best served in one activity that is highly structured than several just to “try it out”. Introducing your child to several activities is absolutely awesome; just not at the same time!! Think quality when you introduce your child to activities, and then consider the quantity.
Here are some things to consider before selecting activities:
- Does my child possess the skills required to participate, such as attending or social skills?
- Is the activity going to benefit my child in a meaningful and functional way?
- Will this activity address my child’s needs?
- Does the program conflict with my child’s primary therapy?
- Is this activity (or number of activities) taking away from other programs/therapies that may be more beneficial to my child?
- Does my child have time to be a kid and NOT be scheduled every day!
Several schools and recreationally based programs offer trial classes or short-term memberships. Consider trying a few options before committing to determine how compatible your child is with the program and staff.
Find the “Ying/Yang in this for your child. Keep them active but allow them to be who they truly are without overloading them. Balance is the most important piece of life, and you are in charge of your child’s scale.
Enjoy and see you next month!