Choosing activities for your kids can be overwhelming! There are hundreds of options to choose from. You want your kids to have fun and be engaged, but not be overschedule, and you'd really love it if programs could be close to home!
Recreational & after school activities can do so much more for kids than just fill their time. They can help kids make new friends and builds their social circle outside of school, which can be important support if they are experiencing any bullying or tough times at school.
Key life skills can be learned in recreational activities that will serve them well into their teens and adulthood. You might be surprised by the far-reaching life skills that kids can develop, all while having a great time.
Important Life Skills For Kids To Learn:
- Focus and self control
- Critical thinking & problem solving
- Empathy & perspective-taking
- Patience & confidence
- Communication & listening
- Creativity & connecting ideas
- Bravery & grit
8 After School Activities To Build Life Skills:
Swimming is perhaps the most obvious on our list of life skills to be gained from after school activities because of the inherent safety factor for young kids. Beyond the safety aspect, learning to swim is a huge achievement that involves breaking a larger task down into smaller parts. This means mastering many small milestones along the way to a greater goal. A child has the opportunity to celebrate their bravery and hard work many times, reinforcing this important mindset. Confidence is an important part of swimming and children foster a deep feeling of accomplishment and confidence that stays with them long after they leave the pool. There are also studies that show an increase in school performance in the early years for children who learned to swim before 6 that may be linked to breathing control and oxygen flow to the developing brain as well and gross motor movement involved in swimming. Yes, that’s right! Swimming is just plain good for you and a life skill everyone should have!
Pedalheads Swim is a swimming program for kids ages four months and up offered in a safe, fun, skills-based learning environment. They offer one-hour lessons, small class sizes, and warm-water pools to give children a better learning experience than they would get in many community rec centres. Using their own proven teaching methods to deliver the Red Cross curriculum, children learn the very important life skill of swimming. Pedalheads Swim offers lessons in Vancouver and Burnaby. And in 2020, they’re opening a brand new pool, custom designed teach young children, in West Vancouver at Park Royal!
Website : www.pedalheads.com
2. Theatre & Performance
Your little one may dream of performing for sold-out crowds or being a famous movie star, but you will be happy to know that a UCLA study found that students involved in the arts tend to have higher academic performance across the board! Through acting & performing, students develop time-management & memorization skills, and learn how to work with a team and accept constructive feedback. Through dance, students develop rhythm and discipline, while being active and expressing themselves. And beyond the performance itself, learning to act & perform can foster skills necessary for careers such as teaching, law, politics or broadcasting. Not to mention that the ability to speak confidently in front of a group is a useful life skill for anyone to acquire!
Vancouver Performing Stars is a performing arts training program that provides children with an arts education along with the life skills and work ethic necessary to be successful in life. With 10 locations across Vancouver and over 100 dance, music and theatre training programs a week, there’s something for everyone. At VPS, they believe that through performing arts training, children are becoming confident, creative and positive members of our community, who believe in themselves and understand that if you dream big and work hard, anything is possible!
3. Outdoor Exploration
As recess and lunchtimes are cut shorter at many schools, school-age children often play outdoors for less than an hour a day. This means they're often disconnected from free play in a natural environment. This type of play is so very important, as it introduces kids to different skills than the structured adult-led play that is often offered in school. Children develop a deep problem-solving ability when allowed the time to figure out their own creative solutions to problems. And outdoor light stimulates the part of the brain responsible for keeping our immune system strong and making us feel happier. Children who identify with nature have also been shown to grow into adults who appreciate nature and want to protect the environment. Although this type of play is free and at our doorstep, it is not always readily available to kids. Not many parents finish work before dark in the winter and even fewer want to organize groups to meet up and then have to stand in the rain for hours while their little one explores. That's why after school programs based on outdoor play are so valuable for our kids today!
Saplings Programs believes that children are imaginative, inquisitive and resourceful, so they build their programs to foster their innate curiosity and inquiring minds. Their programs develop children who are independent, self-reliant and problem solvers. They support children to become communicators who understand the importance of relationships, with each other as well as the environment. They give them opportunities to understand risk, and build confidence in their abilities to make choices for themselves in regards to their safety as well as their learning. Their goal is to grow leaders who begin with kindness and reflection in everything they do.
4. Physical Literacy & Team Sports
Physical literacy is the process of developing the fundamental movement skills that all children need, such as running, hopping, throwing, catching and jumping. These movement skills give kids the confidence to participate in different physical activities, sports, and games as they get older. These skills are the building blocks to a lifetime of physical activity. And a lack of these skills is often the reason that teens and adults pull away from active living since they see themselves as not “sporty”. The benefit of sports of any kind is well documented. Sports demand the full focus of a child, as they concentrate on the task directly in front of them. This is an important skill that carries over to school & later on to the workplace. And being part of a team helps children to develop many of the key social & communication life-skills. They learn to be less selfish, to listen to their peers and to cooperate towards a common goal.
Sportball introduces children to sports by focusing on non-competitive skills-based games and activities. This supports their motor and social development which are often defined as children’s "physical literacy". Programs focus on the basic skills common to all sports, like balance, coordination, stamina and timing in a fun, supportive, non-competitive setting that emphasizes teamwork. Sportball believes that children who are exposed at an early age to physical activity can gain the confidence and skills needed to succeed in sport and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle!
The way of the future is entrepreneurial. Even if you end up working for a company, the skills that make entrepreneurs successful are the same that will lead you to the job you ultimately want within the company. People with an entrepreneurial mindset are more likely to see challenges as opportunities and to tackle them head-on with confidence and to be innovative in problem-solving, both in their work life and their personal life. Talk about a life skill! There are now amazing programs that teach kids the lessons of goal-setting, planning, creative thinking, resourcefulness, determination and problem-solving. These are key 21st-century skills they’ll need to succeed in the world’s changing economy.
The Kidpreneur program at Summit Learning introduces kids to life skills that can be applied in school, future career choices and life experience. The activities allow them to develop skills in a practical manner and to discover their passions and interests as they come up with business ideas. Kids develop resiliency and learn to view challenges positively. Everyday problems are seen as an opportunity to create something that can help others. They learn about the importance of time, money and effort, and learn to collaborate with others and respect other ideas. As the kids are the “bosses” of their own businesses, they make their own decisions and take responsibility. They learn the value of commitment and seeing a project through as they look forward to Kidpreneur market days!
6. Lego & STEM
LEGO has been with us for decades and enjoyed by millions of kids, but LEGO is not just for filling rainy days anymore! Lego promotes fine motor skills, improves creativity, develops problem-solving and mathematical thinking, persistence, lateral thinking and planning skills. Afterschool programs are now using LEGO to make STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) challenges more interesting & accessilble to kids. The kids are learning about technology, science and engineering without realizing they’re doing it. We see that as a win-win for parents & kids!
Bricks 4 Kidz STEM programs explore architecture, engineering, and technology using motorized LEGO® bricks and motors. Highly qualified Bricks 4 Kidz teachers lead discussions related to that day’s model, using materials designed by educators and architects to teach concepts across a variety of subject areas. Kids learn about everything from gears, axles, force, and friction; to geography, space exploration, weather and MORE!
7. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing may once have been seen as a risky fringe sport, but it has grown in accessibility and popularity in recent years. In fact, climbing is set to debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and has shown to be much safer than other sports such as football or rugby when learned correctly. Since climbing is an individual or partner activity, it can be a great option for kids that want to be active but may not have enjoyed their experience in team sports. The process of getting up the wall safely involves clear communication and listening skills with your partner. Climbing increases problem solving, planning and decision-making abilities, and leads to confidence gained by bravery and determination towards a reaching goal.
Climb Base5 offers many levels for kids to learn climbing based on age and experience in both North Vancouver and Coquitlam. The amazing instructors teach all the safety knowledge required to enjoy climbing now and as a life long pursuit. And parents can join in the fun too!
8. Martial Arts
Martial arts teach discipline, respect for the coach, respect for your peers & respect for yourself, all while providing a healthy physical outlet for emotional release. Taekwondo is a modern Korean martial art that emphasizes spiritual development, by pushing students to strive for harmony and unity between their mind and body.
The 5 primary tenants of Taekwondo that are present in every aspect of the sport are:
- Self Control.
- Indomitable Spirit.
These teachings transfer over to home and school, setting kids up to form healthy relationships with respectful boundaries.
Looking for great kids birthday party ideas? We've got you covered for that too!
Wondering what to do with the kids in Metro Vancouver this weekend, or what to make for dinner? You can find it at HealthyFamilyLiving.com! From the Sunshine Coast to the Fraser Valley, we’re the best online resource for busy parents looking for practical tips for healthy, active, sustainable living. For the latest on family events, outdoor adventures, birthday parties, camps & classes and kid-approved recipes, follow us on Facebook and sign-up for our parent-approved e-newsletter!