Idle time is trouble time.

OK, not always, but studies have shown that the hour or two after school is when teens are at highest risk for dangerous activities such as substance abuse, because most kids are alone and unsupervised at this time.  Spending the time playing video games, browsing social media or watching TV isn’t much better.

Teens need activities that will help them develop their skills and their character. Your child won’t magically become a hard-working individual if she has never participated in activities that test her determination and judgment. Likewise, no one is “born” a leader – individuals adopt leadership skills through learning to cooperate with others.

Encouraging your teen to get involved in an after-school extracurricular activity can help keep her out of trouble and improve her character. Sports teams, academic groups, school clubs, art classes or music lessons – whatever she chooses, chances are there are many opportunities for her to get involved in something that engages her passions and also contributes positively to her development.

Organized activities not only teach life skills, they engage your teen’s mind and body, bring her into contact with new people and ideas and help her reach career goals. Extracurricular activities also look great on job applications and show college admissions officers your daughter is well-rounded, responsible and dependable.

Help your child choose an after-school activity by asking her what she is passionate about or dreams of doing one day. She might be interested in an activity that can help prepare her for her career. For example, if she wants to become a nurse, encourage her to volunteer her time serving others at a hospital or health-related charity. If she hopes to become a lawyer, sign her up for debate club. An engineer? Try the robotics club.  A reporter? Look into the school newspaper or TV station. And so forth.

The teenage years are also a great time to explore new interests, and team sports can help develop your teen’s ability to focus and improve her fitness, gross motor skills and self-control and social skills. Participating in trial classes are a great way to test out whether an activity is a good fit or not. Tennis may seem fun at first, but a trial class may show her it’s not really her cup of tea but basketball might be it.

And if you’re looking for a more cost-friendly activity, club activities can be less expensive than private lessons.

Students who participate in after-school programs often show higher rates of school attendance and better attitudes toward learning.  But however beneficial an extracurricular may be, don’t overexert your teen. It’s great to keep your daughter challenged, but don’t let her become emotionally or physically drained. Your teen needs enough time for homework and a good night’s sleep. A healthy dose of free time is also necessary to recharge her batteries.

If you have any questions about helping your child choose a quality after-school program, contact Compass Rose today.