Extracurricular activities aren't just for teens or college students. The many benefits of extracurricular activities, including making new friends and pursuing physical interests, apply to primary school children, too. If your grade-schooler is willing to explore her interests beyond the classroom, she can choose from an array of extracurricular activities.
Millions of children in the U.S. participate in youth sports programs. These extracurricular sports activities are popular among grade-schoolers and can include sports such as soccer, baseball, softball, swimming, tennis and basketball. Unlike extracurricular sports for teens, these activities at the grade school level should focus on building physical skills, learning about good sportsmanship, understanding game rules and developing social skills, instead of pure competitiveness.
The visual arts such as painting, sculpting or drawing, along with the performing arts such as drama, dance and music, are creatively fun extracurricular activities that primary school kids can easily engage in. Parents can look for age-appropriate arts activities that meet the grade school-aged child's developmental level and interests. Your first-grader, for instance, probably won't have the ability or attention span to handle the same intensive still-life drawing workshop that your 15-year-old could. Instead, parents should seek out arts extracurricular activities that specify the child's age such as 8- to 10-year-olds or at a beginners level to start. Some arts such as dance classes carry a risk of physical injury. Avoid overly strenuous training or dance preparation programs when it comes to your young child. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website recommends that ballet dancers wait until they are 9 to 15 years old before starting pointe lessons.
Whether you have a son or a daughter, scouting is an extracurricular activity that can help your grade-schooler build confidence, make new friends, learn real-world skills and get in touch with nature. The Boy Scouts of America website notes that the organization supports critical areas of development such as character building, citizenship and physical fitness. Likewise, Girl Scouts aims to provide children with the opportunity to develop valuable skills. According to its website, "Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place."
Your child's grade school might have academic-oriented clubs that provide an extracurricular way to learn about a specific subject. These can take the form of lunch-time clubs that meet during a recess period, or a pre- or post-school activity. Academic clubs vary depending on the school, student interests and available adult helpers. While some academic clubs have teachers who run them, others might require parent helpers to come in and volunteer. Scholastic-type extracurricular activities at the grade school level might include clubs that cover topics such as foreign languages, science, math or spelling.