At a Glance
The challenges of learning and thinking differences can lower a child’s self-esteem.
Extracurricular activities can help improve your child’s learning skills.
The right extracurricular activities can boost your child’s confidence.
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.
1. Focus on strengths.
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.
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.
Biking, hiking, track and field or climbing can be done with a group or alone. Martial arts and swimming are also great options that can focus on the individual more than the group. Get more ideas about sports for kids with learning and thinking differences.
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 motor control.
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.
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.
There are many ways to help your child find success outside the classroom. Discover afterschool activities that make math fun. Read more on ways to make sure extracurricular activities are positive for your child. Find out how afterschool programs can improve social skills.
Extracurricular activities help kids have positive social interactions.
Out-of-school activities help kids focus on their interests instead of their challenges.
There’s a wide range of extracurricular activities that can help your child find new interests, as well as enjoy existing ones.