The modern girl is no longer restricted to ballet, cheer camp, or girl scouts when it comes to extracurricular activities (although these are still great options for your daughters to try). However, there are a lot more choices these days for girls who want to engage in group (or solo) interests outside of school. With local sports leagues expanding to include girls (whether on co-ed or all-female teams) and a number of formerly male-dominated fields opening up to girls, you can let your daughters choose just about any type of diversion. But there are some that offer added value to what might otherwise be pure entertainment. Here are some of the best extracurricular activities for girls to try (that you can whole-heartedly endorse).
1. Climbing. While this isn’t exactly a team sport, it does require at least two people and a trusting relationship. So girls will learn to interact with others in a positive way. In addition, it allows them to engage in an activity that challenges them both physically and mentally. Not only will they increase strength and flexibility, they’ll also learn strategy (finding the best route and handholds to reach a summit), the importance of safety procedures, and the responsibility required to belay another person.
2. Music lessons. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to music develop faster mentally, especially in the areas of language and reasoning. They also receive higher grades and test scores, learn focus and discipline, and develop a new form of creative self-expression (not to mention learning a life skill that will bring them personal enjoyment, social accolades, and potentially, a means of earning a living). All in all, this is an excellent activity that will give your daughters confidence and potentially allow them to experience other cultures.
3. Gardening. While girls can certainly start their own garden in the backyard, they might be better served to participate in a community garden as a way to learn socialization and to help others within the area. Not only will there be experienced gardeners available to teach them the art of growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers (and all the tricks that one learns over a lifetime), but they will also work with a diverse group of community members, gaining valuable insight, empathy, and tolerance.
4. Martial arts. This is an activity that has a lot to offer any child, but can be even more important for girls. All martial arts provide physical training and self-defense techniques, but many also include both a social and spiritual element, training practitioners to interact with people and the environment in a respectful manner. This sport will give girls confidence in their ability and in their appearance (improving self-esteem). But it also teaches them the skills they need to defend themselves in case of attack (which will happen to 1 in 3 women).
5. Sports. While some parents might find sports too dangerous for their children (especially girls) to engage in, there is a lot to be gained from joining a team. Girls will get the exercise they need to remain healthy, learn discipline that will help them in other areas of their life, and form the strong bonds of friendship and devotion with other children that can only come from interacting in a team environment. In most cases, the benefits outweigh any potential drawbacks.
Lisa Ryan writes for AdvanceMe, the nation’s leading merchant cash advance provider and credit card factoring company.