Children have unlimited potential and what parents allow their children to do today may help to determine their future success, career and well being. Extracurricular activities have many benefits for kids - we'll help you look into the choices.

It's tough being a parent today. There is so much more pressure on parents than ever before on their reponsibilities and the unending choices to create the next little Einstein or 'outlier' as Malcolm Gladwell would put it from their offspring.

From birth, parents have been planning every little step for their little ones hoping they can develop their interests, learning and overall skills through extra curricular classes and after school activities. Most parents come from the generation where they learned their basic concepts of numbers, alphabets, speech, colors and social interaction at home from their parents. These day children are sent to playgroups to learn the same thing. Here's the factors to consider when picking the right extra curricular program for your kid.


There is an extensive choice of playgroups and interest classes, so it's nearly always possible for parents to find something suitable for their children - even if it's at a cost. Be careful not to judge your kid too early - for example, you might think "oh my child is not musical at all" and skip the music classes or "my kid is too clumsy for martial arts - they might hurt themselves". Children are like sponges and they are capable of great change, learning and absorption. Many playgroups offer free first class trials - it might be better for you to give your child a wider range of experiences. And if they are relatively weaker in some areas, that might be even more of a reason to give them further exposure to that activity. For instance, martial arts is excellent for giving your child balance and teaching them how to fall properly so if you think your child is particularly clumsy than they might well benefit from kung fu, taekondo or judo classes.


Different schools have distinct teaching approaches. It's worthwhile asking the teacher to children ratio as the teaching approach can differ hugely depending on the number of kids in a class. Also - ask if you are allowed to attend the class along with your child. Some schools promote parent-child interaction as part of the class and others don't. Again, there's no absolute wrongs or rights but if you are a working mom and don't have a lot of time to spend with your child, it might be a good idea to attend a weekend class in which you both get a chance to bond together. Toddlers still depend on sensory-based learning - they learn more when they are able to hear, touch, smell, taste and see new things and experiences.


Take a good look around the premises - make sure the toilets are clean and that the school practice good hygiene procedures such as enforcing the regular washing of hands. Young children have weaker immune systems and playgroups are ideal homes for germs. Having said this, it is highly likely that your child will pick up a bug or two from interacting in an extracurricular class - this is normal and can help develop and strengthen your kid's immune system, but still - that's no reason why the teaching environment should be dirty. Through you visit, look at the atmosphere, style and characteristic of the place - especially the main management to make sure they are putting the quality of their teaching first, before profits.


After a few classes, you will be able to tell if your child is enjoying themselves or not. They don't have to look thoroughly engaged all the time in the class but they should show an interest. If they continue to look bored, unengaged and frustrated you might want to look into other options, or have a word with the tutor to see if they could tweak their approach. No matter how hard you push your child, it's tough for them to become masters of a new hobby or skill without showing some initial enthusiasm for it.


If you have any concerns, don't feel shy about talking to the tutors about it - the more open a communication you have, the better for all.