Many kids with learning and thinking differences may have times when they feel like they’re “not good at anything.” Their challenges can lower their
self-esteem and make school a stressful place. But extracurricular activities are a great way for kids to focus on their
strengths and passions instead.
These activities can
build up a child’s confidence. They can help him improve his social skills, develop his interests and inspire him to try new things. They’re also a good way for a child who struggles in school to learn in a fun, low-stress environment.
Here are six ways to improve your child’s self-esteem with extracurricular activities.
Kids with learning and thinking differences can struggle in school, so it’s important for extracurricular activities to highlight
their strengths. For example, if you have an artistic child who loves to draw or paint, there are a number of art classes he can take. If he likes to sing or play an instrument, he can join the school band, orchestra or choir.
2. Nurture a subject your child enjoys.
Your child may like certain school subjects, but still get
stressed out by the amount of work required. If your child likes science but gets
anxious in class, for instance, he may enjoy a science club that can make learning more fun.
School clubs are a good way for your child to develop his passion without the pressure of tests or other classroom demands. Many schools have clubs for a wide range of interests, such as photography, drama and community service. You can also look into private activities and classes, such as cooking or rock climbing.
3. Encourage participation in athletics without pressure.
If your child is athletic, there are physical activities that can support his strengths. And sports are a great way to blow off steam. If your child likes basketball or soccer, he can join the school’s team or a neighborhood league.
Team sports can build social skills and provide mentoring opportunities.
But team sports also can make some kids with learning and thinking differences feel anxious. They may even feel
rejected or self-conscious if they see themselves as a weaker player on the team. It’s good for them to know there are other options.
4. Look for activities that may develop your child’s skills.
Some activities can actually build your child’s learning skills. But they’re so much fun, he might not even notice.
Activities like yoga and dance can help develop coordination and
Drama classes can help kids with
reading comprehension. And chess or robotics club can build problem-solving skills.
5. Be on the lookout for a hidden talent.
Sometimes kids might be reluctant to try new things for
fear of failure. Kids with learning and thinking differences may be more hesitant because they already struggle.
This is why it’s a good idea to encourage your child to try a new activity he’s interested in. You can agree that after he tries an activity, he can decide whether to stick with it or not.
The payoff could be discovering a new talent. For example, your child might be focused on playing baseball but find out he has a real knack for painting. That would be a great discovery—and a big confidence boost.
6. Look for activities that may help with social skills.
Kids with learning and thinking differences can fear social situations. Their challenges can make interactions with other kids tough or awkward. And for kids who’ve been
bullied because of their issues, it can be really hard to open up and
make new friends.
An extracurricular activity is a good way for kids to be social in a more relaxed environment. And they get to meet kids with the same interests. Being with other kids who enjoy the same things can help your child feel like he belongs.