I’m such an advocate for getting kids involved in extracurricular activities. The benefits of physical activity are obvious, but a web search will show you countless studies beyond heart-health. Even less-active clubs like music or sciences offer benefits in brain development, social skills, goal-setting and more.
Growing up, I was one of those kids who was always rushing from one activity to another. Be it basketball, acting class, volleyball practice, there was always something filling my time and a new skill to learn.
My activity of choice? Dance.
At the time, I wasn’t concerned with my developing-kid brain, I wanted to dance. I wanted to be better every week than I was the week before. I wanted to see my friends. I wanted to graduate from shiny patent-leather tap shoes to the oxfords the older girls got to wear. I wanted to earn those three minutes on stage, full of glitter, hairspray and a dance costume I’d taken part in designing.
Now that I’ve (mostly) hung up my Capezios, I’m eternally grateful for what I learned beyond the choreography and technique. Hit Google if you want a scientific argument for keeping kids involved in activities, but here’re the life lessons I’ve taken from the studio to my adult life.
- When you’re tired – the show must go on.
- When you roll an ankle – the show must go on.
- When you simultaneously tear your glutes and hamstring – the show must go on. With your understudy.
- There will always be someone who can demi-plié deeper than you, do one more rotation than you, jump higher than you – this isn’t to discourage you, but to drive you harder.
- Sometimes your hair… just… leave it…
- You’re always being marked on more than just your performance. Etiquette, sportsmanship, poise and work ethic are pivotal to a long career.
- It’ll take a million hours without glory in order to shine for a few moments. You better soak in the highs while you can, because that’s what makes it all worth it. And that worth is what’ll propel you through the next million hours of work.
- Yes, you worked harder. Yes, you put in more time and did extra work. But, little Susie is the one who got the solo this time. Deal with it. Life goes on.
- Whether at the barre or at the bar, you can’t always have a drink when you want one.
- A little red lipstick can turn your day around.
How can you help kids in your area?
Children’s activities like hockey and dance can be costly, but there are incredible programs helping underprivileged kids join teams and clubs. Whether you’re looking to donate time or money, you’ll find plenty of options to send a kid into adulthood with invaluable skills.