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What Else Is There?

Not all kids are into sports—so how else can they fill their time while also meeting other children? Jonathan Young looks into alternatives


Kids can get a lot out of helping others…. yeah right! Seriously though, volunteer work can give your kids a sense of self-worth, by making them feel important. It makes you look good too. Whatever you do, don’t let them anywhere near stray animals or they’ll want to bring them all home. Also be aware that eventually you’ll probably be dragged into helping too.


From all accounts, children and parents I’ve spoken to who are involved in these organisations are really impressed. The image I had of girl guides (old ladies teaching little girls how to crochet and make sponge cake) is no longer correct… if it ever was. It’s usually not too expensive, and there are camps that are a great exercise in self confidence. These groups (like a lot of others) usually require a commitment to attend every week, so make sure that both you and your child have the time.


Learning to play a musical instrument can take a long time, but once your child has the basics it can be a major source of enjoyment for life. A word to the wise… you will have to listen to your child pay “Twinkle, twinkle little star” or “Ten Guitars” for weeks on end.

Electronic keyboards with a headphone jack are a great idea.

37 percent of all parental melt-downs can be directly attributed to beginner musicians.

If at all possible, try to get one on one tuition for your child, even if it’s a friend that can play the first two minutes of stairway to heaven.

Kids can learn in a session like that what it might take them ten weeks in a group class. Until your child is reasonably competent, don’t get them to put on shows for friends and family.

Nobody is interested, and your child will be able to tell that… even if you can’t.


This is a very good one, but BE CAREFUL! Remember, that every production YOUR child is in, you will be expected to go to, and expected to be impressed by.

These are traditionally five hours long, boring, in a cold hall, and your child will be on stage for 2 minutes. Make sure that your child is enjoying the classes.

Modern dance and drama are usually best – especially for boys who don’t want to be beaten. Also, with modern acting, there’s less likelihood that you’ll have to make a frog costume.

This is also an excellent opportunity to live through your child. However, remember that your child will probably not get the lead part in the play, and probably will be the one child out of time or facing the wrong way.

This type of activity (especially ballet classes) attracts a certain type of parent. These parents know every line in the show, and consider themselves to be very close friends with the director.

They talk about playwrights you’ve never heard of, and consider rock music to be a contradiction in terms. Pointing out that their child has a runny nose, or seems to lean a little to the left, will ensure that you don’t have to speak with them again.


I know that I can’t paint. I know this because several people have told me, and I’ve taken my paintings down from above the fire place. However, if your child has a creative streak, the visual arts are an excellent option, and an inexpensive source of things to decorate your house.

Throw their paintings in a frame from the $2 shop and you’ve got next Christmas sorted.


In the major centres there is a club for just about everything, whether it be model boats, chess, or kite flying.

These can also be an opportunity for you and your child to share a common interest.

Make sure that it’s something your child is truly interested in, or you could wind up being very frustrated when they don’t share your passion for cleaning up after the racing pigeons.

Clubs can also be a good way for both you and your child to make new friends and contacts.

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