Extracurricular activities you and your child can enjoy together

From music to painting to photography, there are a number of great extracurricular activities you can do with your children

Once kids get past the mommy (or daddy) & me class stage, we parents are often excited to see our children further develop their independence through team sports, extracurricular activities and classes especially designed for their age group. One activity turns into two and sometimes more. Before long, the quality “together” time we once enjoyed consists more of shuffling kids out the front door and into the car, while we harried parents are on the run to yet one more activity.

Sure, the kids may enjoy what they’re doing, but it’s nothing that we’re really a part of anymore and it might just be a heck of a lot more fun if we were doing it together. What do you say, is it time to get back to the “& me” stage of the game and find some cool things to do together?

Consider some of the things that you would like to further enrich your child’s life with—is it art or maybe music-related? Chances are that those very things will enhance your life as well and maybe allow the two (or more) of you to develop new skills, find additional common ground and have plenty of laughs, too.

Perhaps you have looked into art classes for your child. Maybe you’ve never considered there’s an opportunity to do something together. If this sounds like something your child might enjoy participating in with you, you might consider looking into the Currier Museum of Art Art Center in Manchester. Their Creative Studio for Families! consists of a five-week session on Saturday afternoons. While the program is priced based on one child and one parent, there is an option to add additional children for an additional fee.

This family-centric course has garnered high praise from parents like Charlotte Williams of Litchfield, who took the course with her children, Seth and Bella. “We explored a different medium each week,” she said. “It was really fabulous.”

According to the Currier Museum of Art Art Center, the course introduces young artists and their parents to five of their beloved teachers and five of their favorite art projects. It certainly seems like a wonderful introduction to a variety of different art projects for youngsters and parents alike, and a nice sampling of what the Art Center offers to the public. Learn more at currier.org or call 669-6144.

Who doesn’t connect through music — especially when parents have the chance to dive into the fun of creating that music themselves with their kids?There’s nothing quite like music to throw off some inhibitions, let loose and explore rhythm, sample a song or two and just enjoy some wonderful time together.

Longtime musician, educator and entertainer Amy Conley says, “When parent make music with their children, they can have fun, be silly, express emotions, try new things, create lyrics or tunes, and bond with each other.”

Amy should know. Her Family Jam program consists of 10-week sessions offered in either Milford or Hollis, and was initially created for parents to participate in with newborns to six-year-olds, but in time, everyone wanted to get in on the fun. Older siblings are also welcome to join the jam and here’s the best part for everyone —there’s no special talents or skills needed to enjoy jamming together.

At Amy’s Family Jam, everyone is encouraged to develop his or her musical self, which she believes everyone has somewhere inside as well as the skills of rhythm and tone. There’s opportunities to dance to world music, sing play drums and meet what she calls “guest instruments.” Amy herself plays guitar and banjo, and at times will introduce keyboard, accordion, electric bass, mandolin, violin, ukuleles and other instruments. There’s also rhythm instruments such as bells, steel drum, djembes, shakers, triangles, and sticks and all sorts of drums—in other words, there’s pretty much an instrument out there for everyone and participants are able to bring along their own instruments, too.

If you have long harbored the hope that an aspiring musician is among your children, what better way to instill a love of music from an early age than by immersing the family in a fun musical activity together? The youngest in the bunch is sure to enjoy finger plays, puppets and other musical activities geared toward the tots. Whether you’re a mom or dad, a grandparent or caregiver, or maybe just someone who would love to get involved in an interactive musical series to further your own love of music, Conley welcomes your participation in this 10-week family jam session.

“Adults who make music are setting an example for their children (or grandchildren) of active participation, rather than a passive consumption of music,” said Conley. “Parents don’t have to have any special skills to enjoy music of their culture with their children and to take risks in trying new songs, dances, instruments. It’s our human birthright to enjoy music!”
This fall, Amy offers more than just her Family Jam for parents to partner up with their kids to enjoy together. There’s parent-child ukulele for kids age 5-7, parent-child Music Together, for birth to age 6 in Nashua and a parent-child Ukephoria Kids’ Chorus. Amy says that grandparents are always welcome as well as visiting relatives.
One of the best things about being a parent, or a grandparent, and taking in some interactive family time in a music or art series is that you’re not only introducing a youngster to some seriously cool things; you just may find that you’re awakening something new in yourself as well through these enrichment activities.
Pamme Boutselis is a N.H.-based freelance writer, a content director at Southern New Hampshire University and a serial volunteer. She blogs regularly at Along the Way. Follow her on Twitter @pammeb.