Once your children start school, they will inevitably start asking to participate in after-school activities. These after-school activities might include fall soccer lessons, a winter basketball clinic or a spring hip hop class. There are so many after-school activities out there for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary schoolers, middle schoolers and high schoolers that it can be overwhelming to pick a few to partake in. Enter Jill Berry. Jill is Baltimore mom and blogger who writes about after-school activities ideas for the Baltimore Examiner and on her blog — Musings from Me: Seizing Family Time.

Jill Berry
Musings from Me Media
Woodbine, MD 21797
(443) 718-7361

Jill knows a thing or two about after-school activities. She is known for being the go-to person in her community for after-school activity ideas and has been on the “hunt” for after-school activity ideas for the last 19 years…and is still searching! As a mom to three kids and a local writer, Jill has researched practically every after-school activity you can think of. She’s looked at everything from Mommy and Me swim lessons to preschool Kindermusik classes to kiddie kick soccer classes. So without further ado, here are Jill’s ideas on after-school activities.

Read The Class Descriptions Carefully

You might think your kid is the next Tiger Woods. But if your kid is seven and the minimum age for the class is 10, find another class. Age requirements are there not just as a guideline, but as a requirement for the safety of class participants and the instructor. Instructors base their instruction level for each class on the minimum and maximum age of participants. Instructors tailor lesson plans so that all kids in that age range benefit from the instruction, improve their technique and, most importantly, have fun. Kids who are too young will likely not benefit. Parents should consider safety. Your little ice hockey player may be the next Wayne Gretzky, but playing with a group of burly tweens is sure to be an injury waiting to happen for your eight-year-old. If you think your child is ready for the next dance or karate class, but doesn’t fall in the age requirements, call the instructor of the dance or karate school to see if there is any leeway. And, of course, there are always private after-school activity classes for sports, music and dance.

Check The Family Calendar And Then Double Check

If your child’s after-school activity calendar is full, bursting with piano lessons, travel soccer, Scouts, ballet and science club, take a step back. Look at your child’s schedule — and your day-to-day schedule — very carefully. Can your child complete their homework as well as all after-school activities? Are you able to pick up Kid 1 from Activity A and then rush across town to get Kid 2 from Activity B? If you or your spouse or a neighbor can do the pick-ups and drop-offs from after-school activities, schedule around that extra help. If you have any reservations, it is best to take a step back and re-evaluate. If you have more than one child, you will also need to see how after-school activities fit in to the family’s schedule as a whole.

Don’t Wait To Register For After-School Activities

The very best activities in the history of all after-school activities are those that take place at your child’s school. All you need to do is register your child for the after-school activity and the school or county recreation department will do the rest. Many schools offer ballet, floor hockey, kiddie soccer, little kid basketball and arts and crafts classes. But, the catch is that these classes fill up fast. When you see the registration email, register your child for the class ASAP. Don’t waste any time. After-school activities at local schools fill up first with students from that school and then with students from neighboring schools. Also, if it is fall, sign up for soccer as soon as registration opens as soccer is a fall sport. Basketball teams fill up fast in the winter session. Lacrosse and baseball teams are typically most sought after in the spring.

Related: Best Places For Winter Outdoor Adventures In Baltimore

Buy The Gear You’ll Need

You’ve scoffed at the friend talking endlessly about how perfect her running shoes are. You’ve asked yourself why someone would need a pair of running shoes to jog. Wouldn’t any old pair of sneakers do the job? Your child is playing tennis. He can just borrow the instructor’s spare racket and call it a day, right? Wrong. Even if you are not sure if your child will continue with tennis, soccer or t-ball, make a trip to the used sports store and pick up a kid’s tennis racket, a #3 soccer ball or a t-ball. Sports equipment for kids, especially when the child is just starting the sport, is usually very cheap. If your child quits the after-school activity after a while, save the sports equipment for a younger sibling, pass it on to a neighbor or sell it. For sports requiring lots of equipment and pads, like tackle football, lacrosse and ice hockey, recreation departments and teams will allow you to rent the safety pads and helmets at a small cost.

Have Fun

Whether your child is a new ballerina or an experienced baseball player, make the after-school activity fun. Ask your child questions about her new dance class, science enrichment lesson or sports practice. Show a genuine interest in all the new skills he is learning in karate class. Get excited about the new friends he is making. Make an effort to watch his practices. Attend the games. Bring the grandparents to the dance recital. Whether your child is the next Mia Hamm or your child can’t run without tripping over her own two feet, make the experience a fun one.

Related: Best Cheap Holiday Escapes Near Baltimore

Jill Berry @MusingsfromMe is a writer who stays at home or a SAHM who writesit depends on the day and her mood. While playing a writer on the internet, Jill has the gray hair AND blogposts from raising a kid, a preteen, and a teen. When not blogging at Musings from Me, Jill seizes family time whenever she candinner as a family, movie night, marathon family game sessions, travelingyou name it she wants to do it.