Three Keys to Keeping Kids’ Extra-Curriculars From Feeling…Extra

by Taresa Schmidt

It’s at about this time in the summer (and at about this temperature) that I start thinking about fall. It’s not that I’m in a rush for these beautiful cherubs that I call children to get out of my house, it’s that I know the kind of mental and physical preparedness that goes into getting those precious little feet out the door on time, fed, and ready to tackle new challenges.

July, simply stated, is when I start planning for September. I find this planning is particularly helpful for my daughter (whose year is full of amazing dance opportunities and classes at Stage Stars Dance and Acro) and my youngest son (who loves the HAC’s YES Program). Here are three things I do to get my family ready for the new school and activity year:

1. Build a Schedule

What do you want your week to look like this fall? And what can your family handle? Now is the time to ask yourself those questions and act on the answers. Online registration for fall Dance, Acro, and Martial Arts classes is open, so get online, get your children registered for classes now, and get to planning. Likewise, registration for sessions one and two of Youth Sports will open soon. Are you an old school, paper planner person like me? Or do you keep everything in your phone? Whatever calendar you prefer, get those classes scheduled and written down for you to see. Then you’ve got a starting point to schedule other activities around.

Scheduling activities and events ahead of time can also be really helpful to families with children prone to anxiety. My daughter loves knowing ahead of time what she’s doing during her day and evening. If she knows what she’s got coming up, and can mentally prepare for it, we can avoid some of those frustrating moments where she feels like she’s being rushed around and her schedule is out of her control. We get a lot more hugs and a lot less tears in the dance hallway when our children know what’s ahead of them.

2. Build a Routine

My mother always said, before you train your kids you’ve got to train yourself. So now’s the perfect time to start training. What needs to happen in the morning? What are my expectations of my children and myself? Many people thrive when checking to-do’s off a list. Think about the things you expect each child to do before they leave the house in the morning and how those things will set them up for success for the rest of their day. Your child may not intuitively brush their teeth every morning (I know, they should know that by now, but they don’t), charge their Chromebook, and get their dance bag packed for their after-school classes. But if those things become part of their routine and THEIR responsibility, you can avoid situations like scrambling around after school looking for ballet shoes and their favorite water bottle. And yelling. And running to the car, and honking at them when you are in the car and they are still inside looking for their water bottle and WHY CAN’T YOU JUST USE ANY WATER BOTTLE WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE! I speak from personal experience. I’m not proud.

Help them create a routine to avoid stress and anxiety when time is tight. It builds their confidence and helps them (and you!) remain calm and focused on the fun part: seeing them shine in the things they love to do. Eventually (yes, it does eventually happen) these things will become part of their routine and maybe, just maybe you won’t have to remind them.

3. Get the Gear

Did you know that you can order your children’s dance uniforms and shoes ahead of time? The Stage Stars Dance and Acro website shows you exactly what leotards, tights, shoes and other accessories your child will need this fall. Order it now! Avoid the stress of rush shipping, stock outages and trying on a leotard for the first time on the night of class and realizing it doesn’t fit. Get it when it goes on sale at the end of July, try it on, and then figure out how it’s going to get to class and whose job it is to get it there. After one too many driveway meltdowns, my daughter’s dance shoe bag now stays in our car. It doesn’t always smell so great in there, but she always knows where her bag is when she wants to practice at home or when it’s time to get to class. For HAC Martial Arts students, there is a grace period before uniforms become required. Gi fittings take place in the Martial Arts studio a few minutes before each class during the first week of classes, so plan to arrive early.

If your child is considering trying YES activities like basketball or soccer, it’s also a great time to pick up a few extra pairs of athletic shorts and socks. Small, simple things done now mean less running around in August when everyone is looking for the same things. Try designating a place in their room for their activity clothes and shoes, and get them in the habit of having an outfit ready for the next days’ activity.

We all want our families to run as smoothly as possible, right? Use this summer to get your family ready for the exciting new year that lies ahead. It’ll help their confidence and your stress level. And maybe, just maybe, you can avoid those honking in the driveway moments and build in more of those hugging in the dance hallway moments.

To find fall class schedules and register for programs:

Dance and Acro:

Martial Arts and Youth Sports:

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