When your child enters middle school, or prepares to enter middle school, you may have to reconsider after school activities, after school care, and other activities. Is your tween ready to stay home alone? Has he burned out from competitive sports? Does he require constant, or occasional supervision? Here's your guide to after school activities and the tween years.
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If you're considering after school activities in order to keep your tween busy while you're at work, you may want to consider the possibility that your child is ready to stay home alone. Tweens may be ready for time home alone for an hour or two a day, or everyday, depending of course on maturity level, behavior, and your level of comfort. If you think your child is ready to try an hour or two home alone, be sure you prepare him for the responsibility of staying home alone, and set limits on what he can and can't do, whether or not visitors are allowed, and what you expect him to do while he's on his own.
After school care is an option for tweens who aren't ready to stay home alone for long periods of time. The challenge is finding care you're comfortable with, and that your tween enjoys. Be sure you find a program that offers plenty of after school activities for your tween, as well as some time for homework or study.
Be Prepared for ChangeIn middle school your child may have access to after school activities that didn't exist in elementary school. For example, it may be in middle school when your child is first exposed to clubs, such as drama clubs, or other activities such as band, guitar club, etc. Don't be surprised if your tween decides to try something new and no longer wishes to continue with an activity that he's participated in for years. Trying a new activity is a sign that your tween is growing up, and is trying to figure out who he is. Support him as he explores new things, and stay involved in his interests.
Preteens may not be as enthusiastic about participating in extracurricular activities now as they were when they were younger. But it's still possible to find an activity your tween will enjoy. If your tween is burned out on one activity, try something completely different. Find a friend who might like to participate in after school activities with your tween.
When parents think of after school activities, they almost always think about team sports like soccer, baseball, or basketball. Competitive sports are a great option for many preteens, but not all children thrive on competition. Non-competitive alternatives might be a better choice for children who shy away from competition, team sports, and winning or losing. In a non-competitive sport, individuals concentrate on personal performance and on improving their skills, rather than on beating another team or player.
After school activities can teach tweens a new skill, or even give them a sense of responsibility. If you think your tween is ready to hold down a job, the after school hours might be a good time for your child to learn a little about the working world. While tweens don't have the same options that teens do in terms of part-time work, there are a number of jobs
your child might be able to find in your neighborhood or community.