Now that your kids are back in school for the 2018-19 year, it’s time to figure out how to match them up with afterschool programs that they’ll enjoy, and hopefully get something out of as well. Depending on what school your children attend, there may be fantastic music programs, drama clubs or even computer coding clubs. Of course, you can’t count on these programs, since often funding is lacking and teachers and volunteers aren’t willing to put in the extra hours. Sometimes seeking out clubs and mentorship outside of the public-school system is the only way to connect your kids or teens to activities that they’re passionate about, whether it’s creative writing, dance or sports. It is, however, extremely important to encourage adolescents to pursue a hobby or vocation that connects them to other humans and the world at large, so that they don’t get stuck cycling through their social media profiles – a sure recipe for anxiety.

Even an activity like computer coding, which seems to lack human interaction, will give them a common language and passion to share with their peers. In the arts, as well, it’s important to remember that even if your kids don’t seem like they’re going to become the next Miles Davis or Georgia O’Keefe, they may still benefit greatly from developing creativity and mingling with other kids in a collaborative environment.

For the remainder of this post, we’ll look at four potential extracurricular activities that may or may not be offered through your local public school:

  • Creative Writing Groups

Creative writing and literacy programs for adolescents and teens have become increasingly popular in the past decade and a half, largely owing to Dave Egger’s 826 National initiative, which opened its first non-profit tutoring center in San Francisco in 2002. The model enlists local writers and artists to work with kids, helping them with their homework, or to develop personal artistic projects. There are branches in New York and New Orleans as well, and tutoring centers based on the same model have opened up in many major cities in North America. Find out if there’s one in your city and take advantage!

  • Music Lessons

The benefits of kids learning an instrument have been shown to include advanced social skills, an ability to think quickly under pressure and improvise and improved math skills. Additionally, if they’re into jamming then it’s just plain fun! Let them try out the saxophone or maybe an electronic piano they can use with headphones. If they insist on taking up the drums, you may regret suggesting music, but if it makes them happy, it’ll be worth it!

  • Dance

Dance is a great way to learn to work with others and to express you freely. The joyful movement of dance also releases endorphins, combating depression, and provides great exercise so they can fall asleep more easily.

  • The Wide World of Sports

Most schools provide basic resources for basketball, soccer, and baseball. For less popular sports like tennis, lacrosse or capoeira, you may need to seek out specialized clubs and centers. Again, if they are passionately devoted to something a bit unorthodox, it may be worth it to humor them.