Compared to my peers, I did not participate in many extracurricular activities as a child–unless you count making up stories in my head, playing dress-up with my sister and attending church.
Besides that, I spent two years in Girl Scouts, two years in recreational gymnastics, a few years in piano lessons and a splattering of time playing sports at my small Christian high school.
And I didn’t begin participation in most of these childhood extracurricular activities until I was an older child–or preteen. My preschool and young elementary years were spent…playing, imagining, creating.
Perhaps because my parents did not push extracurriculars with my siblings and me, I haven’t felt the need to rush to enroll my own children in a plethora of outside-of-the-home activities. Sure, my three are all age five and under, but I’ve been surprised to find many of their friends already active in an assortment of lessons, classes and leagues.
And, quite frankly, a major reason for my reticence is the cost involved in enrolling our children in extracurricular activities.
Currently, our 3 and 5-year-old daughters are involved in two extracurricular activities beyond preschool and church–Awana and gymnastics through our local recreational center.
Both are low cost and fit within our family’s priorities and purpose (which I talk about in today’s post over at Keeper of the Home!).
Through these, I’ve discovered that it is possible to find affordable children’s extracurricular activities. You just have to get creative.
Check out these 7 places to find affordable children’s extracurricular activities:
1. The Library
Our local public library was one of my most favorite places as a child! Most libraries host summer reading programs, but many also offer activities for children of all ages year round. The best part is that these classes are usually free!
2. Community Recreation Department
Community-sponsored recreational departments often offer a plethora of activities for both children and adults. These extracurriculars are usually affordable and likely cheaper than private lessons and leagues, and, sometimes, classes are even paid for by the community–making them free!
Our community offers fitness programs, swimming lessons, gymnastics, Spanish, children’s sports teams–and the list could go on!
Even if your children are homeschooled, some public and private schools actually allow any child who is a local resident to participate in extracurricular activities. Be sure to inquire at the school before just showing up, though!
Homeschool co-ops abound in many communities. They not only offer elective classes–like Spanish or art–but many homeschoolers also band together to play sports, etc.
The gymnastics studio that provides classes through our recreational department also offers a homeschool “squad.” We recently enrolled our oldest daughter in this class. The homeschool “squad” is half the price of the regular gymnastics classes offered!
5. Community Colleges
From cake decorating to sewing, community colleges go far beyond academics! Some colleges allow teenagers to take these more elective-type classes. It’s worth looking into–especially since auditing them can be quite affordable!
Our church does not offer Awana or any extra children’s activities at this time (beyond Sunday school), but I had heard such good things about the program that I decided to look for another church that hosts it.
I found a great church in our town where our girls have been attending since the fall. They love it!
It costs us about $67 for both of our preschool-age girls to attend for the entire year–but that is very affordable compared to what we would pay for other activities.
The best part is that our girls are having fun while memorizing scripture and learning truths from the Bible!
Another church in our area actually offers free dance classes for girls!
image by Greyerbaby
Are you gifted in art while your friend can speak fluent Spanish? Why not form a weekly playdate where you take turns teaching your children? Perhaps an athletic friend could even form a physical education class!
Even if you can afford expensive extracurriculars, I often wonder if the money we as parents are prone to pour into such activities could be better spent elsewhere.
What if instead of spending thousands of dollars into activities to entertain we put that money into a college savings fund–or gave it to missions agencies–like Dress a Girl Around the World or Hope 4 Women, International?
What if instead of dropping our children off to be entertained for an hour we took them to the local homeless shelter once per week to serve a meal?
I’m not there yet–but I am praying that God continue to prick my heart to make our priorities (serving God and giving to others) a tangible, realistic part of our children’s childhoods.
Today, I’m over at Keeper of the Home delving into another aspect of this topic–How to Intentionally Choose Children’s Extracurricular Activities.
Are your children involved in extracurricular activities? Where do you find affordable children’s extracurricular activities?