Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the world of extracurricular activities with your young child, or you’re already practiced at juggling kid schedules and interests after-school, read on to learn about why and how extracurricular activities or naraigoto in Japanese can be a positive influence in your family’s life.
A gateway to Japanese society
Little kids need time to play and grow at their own pace. But they also need positive learning experiences that set them up for success in Japanese society. Indeed, here in Japan, the choice of whether to send your young kid to extracurriculars is not only considered from the point of view of individual family philosophies. Rather, it is viewed as an essential step to familiarizing children with living as part of larger Japanese society. Unlike bukatsu (club activities) or other extracurriculars run by preschools or elementary schools, naraigoto are activities in the private sector which are unrelated to children’s primary schooling.
So, for one thing, the kids in a naraigoto are not the same ones your child sees at school every day and they are all there (hopefully!) because of a shared interest which can foster friendships. They also learn persistence and perseverance in extracurriculars while navigating new teachers and other kids, much like the experiences of bukatsu awaiting them in late elementary school and beyond, or even the company teams and events of the adult world. Also, naraigoto can complement (pre)school curriculum by helping young children with their greetings, physical strength and flexibility, fine motor skills and/or concentration.
Choosing an activity
In the not-so-distant past in Japan, parents chose their kids’ naraigoto. Recently, however, other parents I spoke with as well as contemporary parenting books and websites that I consulted almost unanimously recommended letting your child guide the process. In other words, feel out if they are interested in participating in activities, and which they feel drawn to.
Of course, this is not to say that we should blindly sign them up for whatever strikes their fancy; little kids often change interests and predilections as they try out social roles for themselves. Also, three to seven year olds really can’t grasp the time and resource constraints that may factor into your decision-making. And so, in this balancing act, it’s important to be clear about your family’s situation as well as allowing your child room to explore.
Click here to read more.
- External Link