Sunday is a great time for your daughter to explore her talents and build confidence. How should she spend her time?
Yom Tov is over; school is back on; and we are settling into a long and, hopefully, routine winter. With the weather turning too cold to spend time outdoors, long Sundays are ahead. Many of you are considering signing your daughter(s) up for ‘Clubs,’ or other extracurriculars but are unsure as to what she/they might like.
Being a Sunday talent school director in Lakewood for close to 20 years, I have spoken to and guided hundreds of parents in helping their child explore their talents and hobbies. Here are some pointers that may help you:
- Seek out your child’s talents and expand on them. If you are unsure, try to take note of what she enjoys doing in her free time. Does she twirl around the kitchen when the music is on? If yes, then a ballet class may be the highlight of her week! Does she love to color, doodle or draw at the kitchen table? If yes, then an art or crafting class may be just what she needs to expand on her skills.
- I am a staunch supporter of letting your child be the one to decide which class to take, if she has a preference. In my experience, when a child makes that decision, as opposed to being told they must take a specific class or join a specific program (due to what the neighbors are doing, or the timing/price works better…), they will be more invested in it; practice more enthusiastically; and hence be more likely to succeed.
- As parents, we all have a tendency at times to relive our childhood through our children. Did you always wanted to take gymnastics but never had the chance? Are you now soooo thrilled that there are frum gymnastics options? Awesome. BUT. That doesn’t mean your daughter has the same desire! She may be more musically inclined, and do better in a guitar class. She may be a budding actress and need a fun, interactive drama class instead…or she may love to play sports, even if you never cared for that. Tap into your child’s strengths! She is an individual and not necessarily a reflection of you.
- Now, assuming that your clumsy, two-left-feet daughter insists on taking that gymnastics or dance class? Or when that daughter who doesn’t really have that nice voice wants to take that vocal training class? Are you wasting your money by agreeing to register her for those classes? Is she wasting her time?
My opinion: Allow her to try it. Firstly, part of growing up is learning, exploring and experimenting what our strengths are. Let them discover this on their own. Second of all, even if they don’t excel at what they chose, it can still be fun and healthy! Gymnastics is confidence boosting and great exercise even if she doesn’t master that back handspring. Art and painting is therapeutic even if you aren’t the greatest artist. Singing is fun and invigorating, even if you can’t carry a tune. (Trust me, I know this part.)
- Being that most classes are just one hour (or less), how can you make sure that they will still positively impact the rest of your daughter’s week? Make your home equipped for and conducive to practice. If she’s taking gymnastics or ballet, invest in a panel mat or portable ballet barre to have at home for her to safely practice. If she’s taking art, it’s helpful to have an extra sketchbook, pastels and pencils at home for her to practice and succeed.
- When inquiring about a program, don’t be afraid to ask your questions, or get references. Who are the teachers? What is their experience in teaching a class? How do they dress? What kind of music is played? Is there constant supervision during, or between, classes? Just because neighbors or classmates send somewhere, it may not automatically mean that the atmosphere is wholesome.
- If your child is struggling in school during the week – be it socially, academically, or if there’s a challenging situation at home – don’t hesitate to let the program director or teacher know this information confidentially. That awareness is crucial, and the teacher can thus give your daughter the extra boost she needs to feel encouraged and confident. Her Sunday classes can be a tremendous catalyst for her to be motivated and feel very good about herself throughout the week.