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After School Activities for kids that build self esteem

Updated on July 17, 2008

After School Activites to focus on art that builds self esteem

After school is a difficult time. No structure and bored kids to deal with. This is why after school activities are so important. Of course you can always stick your children in front of the TV and go do what you have to, but if you are online looking for after school activities than I'm sure that's not what you want to do.

There are many types of after school activities and for many different ages. These activities can be grouped into a few categories.

The truth is for really little kids or home schoolers these after school activities are not really AFTER school activities but at home activities.Its all semantics, its really the same kind of activities that parents are looking for.

There are actually quite a few after school activities that children can get involved in to help develop some of their developmental needs. There are activities to help improve literacy. There are activities to enhance gross motor coordination and there are activities that are just purely to hone social skills like play dates.

What I want to concentrate on though is after school activities that can help raise the self esteem of your children. You may think that it's enough to have fun activities that keep them away from TV or pulling their sisters hair out, but that depends on how you look at your job as a parent.

If you are the organizer type, you're probably happy just arranging play dates or trips to museums..If you have a laissez-faire attitude, computer games and dvd's will do the trick. But if you are more of a a nurturer and to like to sit with your child and do activities together then you are much more likely to look for activities that help the side of your children that will be nurtured. Namely building up their self esteem.

So I have a confession to make. When I talk about after school activities, to me there really is one type of activity that I think rises above all and that is art.

OK! your thinking "big deal" I've been doing that with my kids for ages. But what you're probably doing is Arts and Crafts not art and there's a big difference in the two especiallywhen it comes to building self esteem

Let's think about crafts for a minute. The basic idea of most crafts projects for young children is finding a really cute idea and getting your child to copy that idea. Now ,when a 4, or 5 or 6 or even 7 and 8 year old child tries to copy something that an adult has created it will NEVER look the same as the adults.Which makes most kids feel pretty crummy, even it they don't share theri feelings with you, it takes them down a notch or two.

Aside from the lack of thinking skills crafts provides, how in heavens name can a child feel good about herself when she is not trusted to create at her own developmental level. We are telling her. Only us adults can really do anything in art, you just follow us and you'll be OK.

Which is ridiculous. Art is one of the most powerful mediums for children to develop so many important skills especially good self esteem. Why should we deny it to our kids and give them crafts as a poor substitute

Of course real art is not a quick fix. It does not look so perfect when young children are just starting out but it does take into account the child's developmental level so that they can each create at their own level.

Activities like collage, clay, construction, papermache, painting etc.. All of these activities when done correctly allows a 3 yr old to paint like a 3 yr old and a 5 yr old to collage like a 5 yr old. This tells something to that child. It says "WE trust you to be able to create at your level and you do not have to follow some random model of a cute activity that some strange adult has created".

Wow! What a boost to their self esteem. Imagine if they got to do activities like this over and over again.

The problem is that most parents and teachers for that matter choose activities to fit some kind of theme be it holiday or seasonal, without any real understanding of what they are doing to their children by giving them these crafts activities over and over again.

Don't think for a moment, however that I am advocating chaos. Sometimes people think that when you take away extreme structure, chaos is the only answer. There is a danger of going all the way to the other extreme. By allowing children to do whatever they want with no limits and no structure you are not allowing their self esteem to flourish anymore than the crafts proponents are.

Art needs to be given in stages. Really young toddlers need to learn about glue and paste and what to do with it. We need the understanding that they are not ready to "make anything" representational at such a young age. They need to experiment and understand the material first before actually creating something. You can then introduce collage in a step by step thoughtful manner. First some simple cut out shapes. Then maybe a torn paper collage.

The same thing with painting. You need to understand what children can produce on their own and allow them to do so for their self esteem to flourish. For a home after school activity easel painting which is the usual painting activity of choice in most kindergarten and nursery schools is not that practical and a wonderful alternative called tray painting may be a better choice.

That is an after school activity where the child gets only a small amount of primary color on a tray that they use as a palette. That way they need only one brush and a cup of water along with the tray and paint. This is an excellent direction following activity with allowing the children hours of fun and creativity as they mix colors and they create their own masterpieces.

You can actually learn more about activities that allow self esteem to flourish through arts and crafts for kids and watch your childrens self esteem go up notch by notch.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      So my daughter's kindergarten teacher threw away her painting because she used her fingers and marshmallows to spread around the paint (when she was supposedly only supposed to be using marshmallows). My daughter never heard her say ONLY use marshmallows--not fingers. She told me she was trying to move the paint around so she could make better designs with the marshmallows. Does anyone else see a problem with the teacher's actions?

    • profile image

      I AM 

      6 years ago

      thanks lol years later and still people are reading it and being inspired. Art time!

    • profile image


      6 years ago





    • faigekobre profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from NY

      Thanks for your comment.

      I actually wrote this a while ago and in the interim I started a blog that has lots of really great ideas for educational art activities.

      You can check it out at

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      thanks for writing this its really good


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