As parents, you want your kids to grow up to be successful. You think about their academic abilities and make sure they are getting a good rounded education. But the truth is, your kid could be the smartest one in the class, but if they don’t have any social skills, they might still not get far in life. Social skills are necessary for building and maintaining relationships, whether they be personal or professional. But how much more socialization do kids need outside of school? If you ask me, a lot.
When I was a kid, my parents didn’t put me in any extracurricular activities. I was never part of an outside-of-school sports team, dance, or anything like that, and my social experiences were left to my public school. For a shy introvert, the pressure of socializing with the large amount of students attending my school, and for the most part only those students, made for a lack of variety of social experiences. To make a long story short, I am now what would be considered “socially awkward.” But don’t pity me, take my story and use it make sure you are socializing your children. There are a number of ways you can socialize your children and help build other life skills at the same time.
Sports and Other Activity Teams
Physical activity is probably one of the easiest ways to socialize your kid outside of school. An infographic from Ohio University demonstrates the many benefits of youth in sports. Being on a team makes kids interact and work with each other for the purpose of a common goal. It provides a chance for meeting new kids outside of school in a smaller group of just their teammates. Another benefit of enrolling your kids in team sports is the chance to learn some important life skills, like healthy competition, teamwork, and healthy lifestyle habits. There is usually a different sport going on each season, so your kids can choose which one they are most interested in, and find other kids with the same interests. If your kids aren’t into the rough nature of team sports, there are also other activity teams and classes that aren’t so aggressive such as dance and gymnastics.
Boy and Girl Scouts
I can’t tell you how much I wanted to be a Girl Scout, though my reason was as silly as I thought the uniform was cool. But the scouts are more than just cute uniforms, they are a great way to socialize your children. With weekly meetings with the local troop, your kids get to know each other well and experience a variety of activities together. Along with socializing, kids work to earn badges for things ranging from survival skills to community involvement. Doing this they learn to work both together and as individuals to achieve their goals. While survival skills are important, it’s the leadership and teamwork skills they learn that they can use in their everyday life and apply to their future.
While it sounds surprising, video games are a great way for kids to be social. There are actually several benefits to playing video games, such as improved cognitive development, mental health, and social skills. Many video games are multiplayer, allowing kids to play with their peers. Games also include stories and puzzles that kids must think critically to solve, which can have a positive effect on their cognitive abilities. One downside to video games that many have worried about has been the sedentary nature of them. Kids sitting inside for hours isn’t great for their health, but new apps like Pokemon Go are getting kids outside and running around with their friends, and even meeting new ones.
Getting a good education is important, but just as important are good social skills for a successful life. Finding alternative ways to socialize your kids outside of school can help their futures in both their person and work lives.
Bio: Mila is a writer with a BA in English Linguistics living in beautiful Boise, ID. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on twitter and instagram!