After-school activities basically fall into two camps, organized and unorganized. Organized activities include things like sports that teach important life skills, such as teamwork, and athletics like martial arts and karate that fine-tune motor skills. Of course, the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and the 4H-Club offer organized activities, too. Your child’s school may offer extracurricular activities like performing arts, clubs, and education programs.
In general, unorganized activities include the informal, planned, or unplanned things your kids do after they get home. While it’s usually safe to assume that your kids are engaged when they participate in organized activities, it’s not always wise to do the same when it comes to the things they do after their formal extracurricular activities.
Whether they’re in elementary school, middle school, or high school, kids too often wrap up a school day, go home, and get figuratively lost in their electronics. Although most kids prioritize screen time, being codependent on an electric device from the time they get home until bedtime isn’t a good thing.
To break the day-to-day cycle of school time, screen time, and then bedtime, you can introduce your children to some activities that are engaging and entertaining. If you’re struggling to come up with some ideas, don’t worry. We have a few ideas that cover a wide range of possible interests, which ensures our list of activities includes at least one or two that will pique your child’s interests.
Use the Adventures from Scratch Adventure Book
Adventures From Scratch by Let’s Roam is a series of adventure-filled, scratch-off books. Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition includes more than 50 challenges your kids can do with each other and their friends. Read the description under each challenge and choose the one you think your kids will enjoy doing.
As you’ll see, the Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition includes some challenges that are more time-consuming and complex than others. Given the variety of the challenges, you’ll be able to pick one every day that will fit into your family’s schedule nicely.
Sign Up for a Scavenger Hunt
An in-home scavenger hunt is an entertaining way for your kids to spend time after school. Your children can dust off their social skills as they work together to solve riddles and find clues that will take them to the next leg of their hunt.
Let’s Roam offers in-home family scavenger hunts you can do as a family or that your kids can do on their own or with their friends. In either case, your kids will remain engaged and entertained from the start of the hunt all the way to the end.
Compromise with Coding
If your children dig their heels in and refuse to give up their devices in favor of other extracurricular activities, you may want to compromise and tell them they can use at least part of their screen time learning to code. Today, knowing at least some coding basics is necessary even in fields where you might not think it would be relevant. For example, even digital content writers—writers, not programmers or web designers—need to employ their coding skills from time to time.
You have several options when it comes to your children learning to code. Kids of all ages and skill levels can learn to code using play-based apps made by Sphero. For more formal training, you can sign your children up for an online coding course. If your child needs one-on-one instruction, you can schedule some private lessons.
Send Your Kids on a Cinematic Adventure
Movies filmed exclusively with smartphones have made their way onto reputable streaming sites in recent years. If your children don’t want to give up their screen time or learn to code, encourage your kids to make digital movies. Who knows? Maybe their cinematic journey will lead to your first red carpet appearance at some point in the future.
Have Your Kids Put On a Play
Keeping in the vein of entertainment, you might want your children to create and put on a play. Pick a theme and have your kids create a short script based on the chosen idea. Encourage your kids to be as creative as possible. Let them go through your closet to find items they can use to dress up in character.
This activity is best reserved for children who are old enough to dress themselves since they’ll be wearing costumes during their live performance. Kids also have to be old enough to put together a short play that has a defined story structure. If your children are in the latter stages of elementary school or middle school at least, they should be able to construct and pull off a short play from conception through performance.
Do your best to refrain from giving your children a deadline to finish their play. You want them to exercise their creative muscles as they script their play, and their creativity may ebb and flow. With that in mind, let them wrap up production on their own terms as long as they continue to make progress each day.
If the cinema bug has bitten one of your kids, you can have your little one film the final performance on opening night.
Ask Your Children to Write or Tell You a Story
While working together to create a play gives your kids a chance to perfect their social skills and teamwork abilities, particularly if they involve their friends, you can ask your kids to employ their creativity to write or tell you a story on their own. Write out some storytelling prompts on small strips of paper, fold each one, and put them in a jar. Choose a few days throughout the school year when you’ll ask your children to prepare a story.
On those days, have each child draw a piece of paper from the jar. Then, instruct each child to prepare a story about their chosen prompt. Ask your kids to be as detailed and descriptive as possible. Encourage your children to illustrate their stories if they’re so inclined.
If your children are too young to write coherently, you can have them recite their stories. Kids who are old enough to write out their tales should be encouraged to read them aloud when they’re done preparing their material.
Once everyone has presented their stories, collect the written ones, scan them, and save them. When your kids are older, you’ll have a printable collection of their stories, which they can share with their own children down the line.
Enroll Your Children at iD Tech
iD Tech is a wonderful virtual platform that will appeal to kids aged seven and up who have an interest in robotics, technology, and all things digital. The platform hosts summer camps, weekly and semester-long after-school programs, and a virtual tech academy for pre-collegiate students.
While online classes typically have a 5:1 student-teacher ratio, you may prefer to sign your kids up for private lessons instead. If you arrange one-on-one instruction for your children, they’ll be able to bring a friend to their tutoring sessions for free.
Are your kids in high school? If so, you’ll want to register them in iD Tech’s virtual tech academy. The academy runs sessions in multiple time zones and it offers an intensive curriculum based on the hottest, most relevant tech-related topics.
Attendees benefit from 20 hours of direct instruction over two weeks, and they network with their peers in a group think tank setting as they develop specialized skills. Those skills and the projects your kids will complete through the academy can give your young adults a competitive edge as they advance toward college or entry into the workforce.
Sign Your Kids Up for Book Club for Kids
Reading can add a lot to the youth development process, especially if your kids continue to read throughout their formative years and beyond. You can make reading an even more worthwhile endeavor as it relates to child development by signing your kids up for the online Book Club for Kids.
This digital platform has more than 100 free podcasts related to books written for the eight- to 14-year-old market. Each podcast is about 20 minutes long and features discussions, readings by celebrities, and interviews with authors. The commentary in each free episode will enhance your children’s critical thinking skills.
Book Club for Kids is free to use, and you can access its material by navigating to:
- Google Podcasts
- Apple Podcasts
Enlist Your Children with Perfect Play
If you’re looking for recreational activities that will keep your kids active, you may want to sign your children up with Perfect Play. Founded by the Chelsea Football Club and Chelsea Digital Ventures, Perfect Play is intended to keep soccer fans aged nine and older moving after their school day has drawn to an end.
After you sign your kids up, they can participate in training exercises and interactive games. They can also get tips to improve their playing skills from real-life professional coaches and soccer players. While we can’t guarantee Ted Lasso and his crew will make an appearance, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the gang from Richmond will put rivalries aside and get involved with this innovative platform.
Get Younger Kids Involved with Treasure Trunk Theatre
Like filmmaking is a good way to introduce your kids to the visual arts, getting your kids involved with Treasure Trunk Theatre is a fantastic way to familiarize them with the performing arts. Treasure Trunk Theatre offers digital theatrical classes and camps for aspiring performers aged eight or younger. Your kids can learn to sing, dance, and act once they’re enrolled.
If one of your kids has a special day coming up, you can schedule a virtual birthday party adventure or an outdoor party where the folks at Treasure Trunk will bring the party to your backyard or a nearby park or playground. Either type of birthday celebration is a fun party filled with age-appropriate theatrical activities that can add to your child’s enrichment and appreciation for live theater. Up to 20 kids can attend a virtual event and as many as 30 children can be part of an outdoor party.
Involve Your Children in Fund-Raising
With so many people and non-profits in need, it’s important for children to learn to give back from an early age. As the seasons change throughout the school year, ask your children to go through their things and gather their non-essentials. Explain that your family will donate the items it no longer needs to help others.
Can’t find anything to donate? That’s okay because it’s the 21st century and your kids can help charities online. Set up a silent auction using social media and ask your kids and their friends to create artwork, stories, and crafts that you can auction off, with the proceeds going to your chosen charity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Popular after-school activities include learning, volunteering, organized sports, and recreational activities that are part of a program or initiative specifically designed for kids.
Many after-school activities can help kids stay out of trouble! Involve them in fundraising efforts, get them involved in a theater, or enroll them in online or in-person coaching sessions.
Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition was designed to give families creative ideas for quality time—after school, or anytime. Kids could also try in-home scavenger hunts for lots of fun!