After School Activities Do Kids Really Need Them?

Afterschool ActivitiesWhile some of us actively advocate afterschool activities, others prefer to keep a limit; but what do the experts say? HEALTH takes a closer look….

The Positives

From karate and swimming to piano, depending on the activity, according to Dr. Saliha Afridi, Clinical psychologist and Managing Director of the Lighthouse Arabia Community Psychology Clinic, after school activities can indeed be very healthy for the child to develop physical, social, and psychological health. She elaborates, “After school activities can be great for a child’s self-confidence, selfesteem, discipline, and skill development.” In fact, quite frequently parents may feel that their own parents could not or did not do anything for them therefore make that extra effort to provide their children with every opportunity – piano, painting, football, ballet, yoga, swimming, tennis-so every day of their week is booked.

Some parents, she adds, may even live through their child so their own unfulfilled dream of being a pianist or a football star is pushed on to the child.

The Downside

A negative about after school activities is when parents get carried away and sign up the child for too many activities. They schedule their child every day with after school activities which Dr. Afridi notes may be too stressful for the child, and/or may not leave the child with time for free play. “Over scheduling children can result in the child developing mood and/or stress disorders,” she says.

“As parents we want to make sure that we are providing our child with many different experiences and skills,” she says, adding, “We want our children to know that they are loved and that they will have all the opportunities that money can buy.”

The Verdict

Balance, stresses Dr. Afridi, is the key. “After school activities should be a part of a child’s life-but not to the point where they are always scheduled to do something,” she says and while children can certainly benefit from exposure to after school activities, it is just as important to have free time to explore, play, and be creative. Kids also need time to build family relationships by spending time with parents, grandparents, aunts, and cousins. They also need to be okay with being by themselvesif their time is always scheduled then they may not get a chance to think, dream, create, aspire, or be self-aware. “It is also helpful to ask your child what they would like to do-this way they are learning early on to use activity-whether it is creating art, physical sport, or singing in a choir-as a healthy way to relieve stress and build confidence,” she reminds.



UCMAS Abacus classes

The UCMAS method of improving the child’s memory and speed in thinking rests on the ancient tool — the abacus. For the first six months of the programme the child is familiarized and made to operate the abacus. By the end of the programme they have 450,000 images stored in their memory. Once they perfect their ability to recall these images and convert them into numbers, they are ready to attempt sums mentally with the help of the abacus — and without it after some time. Visit:


Top Chef Dubai

Mini chef exclusively dedicated to a gourmet little chef, this class is the place to explore, create, learn, and taste. Visit:

Cooking Sense

Children will discover the fun in healthy cooking and eating with all senses. Children will learn to cook easy to prepare recipes which than can be easily cooked at home. All classes include ingredients, recipes and a small meal or a tasting session in the end of the class. Visit:


Dubai Music School

Dubai Music School was founded in 1980 by pop star internationally acclaimed singer, composer and producer Glenn Perry out of the need to help aspiring musicians develop musically in the instrument of their choice. All instructors’ are professionals whose credentials speak for themselves. The institute offers guitar, piano, bass, electronic keyboard, drums and violin. Visit:

The Music Institute

The Music Institute offers music and dance classes that include music, piano, guitar drums, violin, flute, saxophone flute and keyboard. Dance classes include Salsa, contemporary, dance, and hip-hop


Centre for Musical Arts

The Centre for Musical Arts, established in 2006, provides high quality musicianship to the young and the young at heart. Also by investing the sponsorships it receives into its facilities, CMA has also been able to attract some of the world’s finest music instructors who were keen on imparting their skills to the community in a world-class environment. Visit:

Fitness and Sports

Golden Falcon Karate Center

Classes for children are available at Golden Falcon Karate Center and the good news is that they have several branches in both Dubai and Sharjah and are able to provide transport if required. Visit:


Zen Yoga blends basic yoga poses with special activities that not only build coordination and concentration, but also stimulate your child’s verbal, spatial, and artistic skills. In this playful environment, kids from 4 to 10 years discover that yoga is fun, feels good, and that taking care of their bodies is easy. Visit:

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