After-School Activities

How to Motivate Children to Finish What They Start

It happens all the time. A child begs for music lessons, to join a sports team, or dabble in the world of dance or gymnastics. You agree, pay for the 6-week session (or longer!), and your kiddo declares they are done and ready to move on halfway through week two. While a sudden shift of interest is common, especially in young children and teenagers, normalcy isn’t any sort of consolation to your bank account or carpool schedule. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to motivate children through the duration of an activity – perhaps even revealing a true love and passion for a skill that never would have been developed if quitting were an option.

Give Them A Dream

Think about what first got your child interested in the activity. Perhaps they caught a football game at grandpa’s house, or came across an exceptionally beautiful painting on a school field trip. Consider ways that you can re-ignite that passion – or at the very least inspire them to follow through and complete their current window of commitment. Show them a movie, take them to a live show or read story books pertaining to said activity. Show them what they can potentially achieve if they stick with it!

Have a Short-Term Focus

Kids, especially very young ones, don’t grasp the concept of the word “non-refundable.” So instead of trying to win them over by showing them the credit card statement, instead try to use a short-term goal process to work up a new dose of enthusiasm. Take it week by week, giving small rewards for a job well done – stickers, a special snack, etc. Don’t over indulge, but be sure to hand your child small bites of commitment and responsibility, and he will get through the amount of participation you’re (realistically) hoping for.

Be Their Biggest Fan

Everyone needs a cheerleader in life, and during these young years, chances are you are his number 1. Work hard to be encouraging whenever possible, and voice to your child how you are proud of them for not only achieving successes, but for just trying their best and honoring their obligations. Loving words can go a long way.

After-School Activities

3 Signs that Kids Music Lessons Are Right for Your Child

Most parents know the benefits for a child who studies a musical instrument. Academic grades can improve, ill effects of attention disorders may lessen and the child is learning a timeless skill that teaches them commitment and responsibility. However, how do you know exactly when your child is ready for kids music lessons? Fortunately there are a few telltale signs that can help you make the decision.

Sign #1: Focus

The first sign to look for is how long your child is able to focus on a task. Children must be able to focus on an assigned task for at least 15 minutes in order to successfully learn an instrument. For this reason, most kids music programs will not accept children younger than 5. Age 4 is usually the youngest that children are able to keep up an adequate amount of focus and attention.

Sign #2: Enthusiasm

Another sign that your child is ready, is his own personal level of enthusiasm. Going to an establishment that offers a personalized assessment of each child, like The Music Place located in the South Bay, will usually result in the instructor recommending what instrument is best for the child to begin lessons. Is your child excited about this particular instrument? If not, he will quickly lose interest. However, if he’s apt to happily give it a try, then his maturity level and ability to trust the judgment of an instructor may be primed and ready for the first steps of a music career. The two most common “starter” instruments your instructor may suggest are the cello or violin, as they both come in a smaller size. Piano Classes are also popular.

Sign #3: Thrives in a Group Environment

Finally, it is important to note that while your child may not be ready for the focus and individual responsibility of private lessons, he may thrive in a group environment. Group lessons are a great way to try out an instrument because they are more affordable, and also allow for the child to model his behavior after other children who may be older and more adapted to a music class environment.

After-School Activities

How Do You Find the Perfect Kids Activity?

Do you think it’s tough to find the right activity for your child?

Helping you find after-school kids activities for your child

Of course you do! That’s why I, Activana, am here to help, right? Right! So I’d like to say: Finding the perfect kids activity for your brood is like getting dressed in the dark. You’re either great, or in black-and-green checks with a matching polka-dotted tie. But fear not! I, Activana, have arrived to make your life easier, for I can relate.

My Own Kids Activity Story

Lo, a story: I remember when my parents had their share of issues trying to find the perfect activity for me. They were always trying to decide between the violin and aquaggaswack, or obsessing over getting me into the very finest claymation classes. (You know, the ones with the IQ tests for kids in preschool, where they make you recreate Michaelangelo’s David in red Play-Doh.)

So, I know that it takes a lot of time to pick out the perfect thing for your child to do. Whether it’s the perfect kids activityor not, my mom always thought it was better than Angry Birds and Nerf Gun battles taking over my time and our living room. She had heard horror stories of how hard it was to peel away a kid from these, so she was hell-bent on “engaging my time in a constructive way”.

So did she pick the perfect thing for me? I really wasn’t all that into the violin, so a few years later I decided to switch to the aquaggaswack.

Experiment to Find The Right Activity for Your Child

There’s no harm in experimenting. If your child loves what you’ve picked out, great! You’ve hit a bullseye in the dark! Now sit back and enjoy some strawberry lemonade with a lime wedge and umbrella (which your son promptly made upon coming back from a cooking class). Good job!

But, assuming not all of us are the perfect marksmen, what if your little girl DOESN’T like the Muay Thai Kickboxing class you signed her up for? Well, that’s okay! Find out why. Does the teacher kick too easy? Do her opponents underestimate her? What now? Look for a different kickboxing class that has a different philosophy. One that doesn’t underestimate the raw power that your daughter’s 50-pound frame emanates. Or she might be the peaceful sort who thinks using birds as ammunition, despite how angry they look, is very violent. Maybe she even looks down as Oriental kickboxing as barbaric. Then ask her if she’d be interested in trying out Chinese brush painting or building robots at the LEGO mindstorm club.

Keep At It

It does take a lot of time and patience to find the right activity for your child – you’re growing, exploring, and bonding right alongside your kid as they discover their interests and passions. It’s a lot of trial and error. But once you decide on the type of kids activity, I at least want to take the burden of finding the right class off your head. I want to make it easier for you to find the class your friends recommend and one that fits your schedule and price. You can leave that to me! Here’s wishing you the very best for your child-raising adventures!