Hunting for Extracurricular Activities

The hunt for the perfect extracurricular activity is on! The end of winter term means it is high time for Darien parents to research their children’s spring activities and summer camps.

The hunt for the perfect extracurricular activity is on!  The end of winter term means it is high time for Darien parents to research their children’s spring activities and summer camps.  I have a stack of flyers and course catalogs from Darien Summer School, Darien Arts Center, YMCA, etc.  I am spending a significant amount of time reading them, really reading them.

Parents join the hunt because we’re trying to figure out and nurture our children’s strengths and interests.  There are the lucky few who identify their children’s passion early. But for most of us, the process of finding the right activities that will truly bless our family consists of time consuming and expensive trial and error. 

We try this activity for 8 weeks and that activity for 12 weeks.  We spend a couple of hundred dollars for one activity and another couple of hundred for another. We buy equipment that is only used a handful of times.  All this done in the hope that out of all the activities we are trying, a couple of them will “stick”.  If we try enough different activities, we’ll eventually find one that our child loves and gets good at it over time. 

Tonight after a particularly good tennis lesson my daughter said, “Mom, tennis has really increased my awesomeness.”  It was one of those delightful moments when you know that your child is involved in a perfect extracurricular activity for her.  Tennis was building her body and mind.

Here are some suggestions that have helped our family hunt:

  • Try to sign up for activities with your friends.  We intentionally signed up for soccer with another family and carpooled together.  My child was always enthusiastic to go and see his friend there.  The activity was essentially a fun playdate for him, except he was learning the essentials of a sport, getting extra practice, and working up a healthy sweat in the dead of winter. 
  • Plan to register for activities much earlier than you think you have to.  If you think swimming registration for the summer probably starts in March, then mark January on your calendar as the time to inquire about it.  I registered my children with the Darien Little League in November 2010 for a season that starts in April 2012.  Last year registration with the Darien Junior Football League began on March 31 even though the season did not start until the fall.  Be an early bird when it comes to registration planning in Darien.
  • If you see potential value in a new activity, give it a try.  Your child will never know whether or not he likes something unless he tries it.  Your schedule may be crazier than you like because you’re trying 10 different activities in one school year.  But if you try enough things during these early school years, you will find something that works and those 10 different activities will whittle down to a much more manageable number the following year or the year after that!  Hang in there!  Happy hunting!

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Michelle Donzeiser February 23, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I agree, it's all trial and error! It's the only way to figure it out. Thanks for the reassuring insight.
Helaine Ayers February 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM
As a mother of three 20+ something now, looking back on my experiences, I agree with variety sampling at this age group. When you see that right passion ("awesome") hit, it's an incredible feeling -- my daughter's "I had the best science class ever!!!" in 4th grade still makes ME feel great.
Leslie Yager February 23, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Chuckling. My d's sampling started with ribbon dancing lessons. Then magic class, cartooning, felt making, computer camp, high school theater. She's still "sampling" in college. She calls it 'putting yourself out there.'
Voula T. Katsoris March 07, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Great advice and so well stated! I love the suggestion of trying activities with friends as your child will not only get the benefit of the activity itself but will also strengthen friendships at the same time!
Jeffrey Friedberg July 21, 2013 at 08:04 AM
Hi All - Just letting you know about a new extracurricular activity in Darien starting in September at the Darien Nature Center. "Bossy Frog & Me" children's music classes. For more info: http://www.bossyfrog.com. Thanks, Jeffrey


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