Our day to day lives involve so much. From the usual adult responsibilities, to the need to find an au pair that fits perfectly into your family dynamic and continually ensuring our children are well-rounded and happy, it’s no wonder many parents are left feeling confused when it comes to handling the topic of extra-murals.

In today’s world, a child’s daily routine is far different to what we experienced when we were growing up. Schools offer so much more, and their days are packed. Further to this, what can be offered outside of school time has also grown. Apart from the traditional extra-murals such as hockey, rugby, tennis, cricket, music and swimming, you now get martial arts, coding, drum and bass, street dancing,  and so many more, just to name a few.

All of these activities require additional time and often, travel, for a child to participate. The prospect to find an au pair may prove wise and helpful.

For this reason, we’ve put together a handy little guide with all you need to know to help you manage extra-murals for you and your family.

What are extra-murals?

We’ve all heard the term extra-murals before – but what exactly does it entail?

As a leading Au Pair agency in Johannesburg, we classify extra-murals as: the activities a child can do over and above their curricular activities at school. These would usually take place outside of the pen and pencil classroom setting, normally after school.

Extra-murals are the perfect way to get your kids moving and learning something new, while at the same time developing self-esteem, confidence and team-working skills.  Whilst they are not a part of the core curriculum, they contribute to making your child a well-rounded and balanced individual and once you find an au pair, they will manage the to and fro of the activities and ensure that you have additional support for your child.

What types of extra-murals are there?

There are so many different types of extra-murals that your child can get involved in at different stages of their development.

To name a few:

  • Music, Drama and Performing Arts
  • Sports (Rugby, Hockey, Cricket, Swimming, Netball, Athletics)
  • Games like Chess
  • Coding
  • Martial Arts
  • Dancing and Ballet
  • Horse Riding
  • Arts & Crafts, Cooking & Baking

What extra murals can be offered at schools?

All schools recognise the importance of offering an array of extra-mural activities, which in turn provide a sound base from which to enrich every aspect of your children’s lives. Leadership skills are generated through these activities and aid in building your child’s true character.

Generally, most schools will encourage parents, and subsequently, the au pair in their employ, to allow their children to do two summer sport or cultural activities and two winter sport or cultural activities per year, so that they can explore a range of activities to find what they really love. As they get older, and find their passion, they can specialise in specific activities to develop their skills further. Once you find an au pair that has knowledge and interest in similar activities, they can guide your child’s interest even further.

What are the benefits of extra-murals?

There are huge advantages to taking part in extra-murals which benefit your child’s physical and mental development. Children who participate in these activities show higher academic results, stronger relationships in schools and are more likely to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. These activities help to stimulate an interest in the world, outside of school and home life.

Here at Au Pair Extraordinaire, we encourage parents to help guide children in choosing appropriate extra-murals for themselves and find an au pair to function as secondary support.

Benefits of extra murals:

  • During school time, children operate within a structured environment, whereas extra-murals give them the chance to exercise their minds, bodies and spirits in a different way.
  • It teaches them new skills as well as how to handle situations like winning, losing and team work.
  • Doing an activity after school, especially sport, gives the brain a total break, allowing them to focus and concentrate more easily when they get home to do homework.
  • It gives your child the opportunity to develop a particular skill, while exhibiting their non-academic capabilities.
  • It helps build a child who is well-rounded, with a balanced personality and boosts their self-esteem and self-confidence. It also helps them learn valuable social skills, how to work in a team, and how to face their fears.
  • In some cases, extra-murals can lead to even greater opportunities such as scholarships to prestigious schools, bursaries to university and trips overseas.

On a more serious note, partaking in an extra-mural instills a sense of responsibility, discipline and accountability in your child. It teaches them about commitment and the importance of working hard at something that not only impacts them, but others around them too.

It also provides a far more constructive use of time; especially in today’s scary world of online media, drugs and alcohol. It limits the trouble and mischief that can occur when children are bored. Extra-murals also help your children to sleep better at night, as they go to bed well-exercised, stimulated and content.

Extra-murals sound great, but what do we need to watch out for?

  1. The key word is balance.

While we absolutely promote extra-murals for all the reasons listed above, parents do need to be careful that they are not inundating their children and placing them underneath an unmanageable amount of pressure. Children still need to be ‘’children’’, at the end of the day. Find an au pair to help you and your child manage this.

Parents and au pairs need to play a vital role in helping children to:

  • Choose appropriate extra-murals to suit their child’s personality, capability and lifestyle.

We firmly believe that choosing what type of extra-murals your child partakes in should be led by your child. However, this still needs to be done through the guidance of the parent or au pair. It is so important to know your own child, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

If your child shows an interest in something, give them the opportunity to try it out.  Most activities allow for a free trial, and if it’s not for them, it’s important you encourage them to find something else more fitting, to avoid feelings of failure or disappointment. However, once they have committed to something, it’s important you help them to remain committed.

  • Help them juggle their extra-murals alongside school, home life and free time.

The wonderful thing about extra-murals is that children absolutely love them. So much so, that many of the kids are coming home exhausted because they want to partake in everything. In situations like this, it’s the parent or au pairs responsibility to know how much their child can handle and how to manage it.

Just as extra-murals are important, so is their time at home. Children need to have the time (and the energy) to do simple things at home like playing with their pets, spending time with their siblings, helping out in the kitchen or simply appreciating some quiet time lying on the carpet playing Lego or reading a book.

  1. We need to be careful not to ‘’overschedule’’ our children

One can never underestimate the importance of ‘’free play’’, a term used to describe a completely unstructured time when a child can simply be. It allows them to use their imagination and creativity, and go at their own pace. It’s also important for children to experience boredom and quiet time so they learn how to entertain themselves and be in their own company.

There’s no question that extra-murals and sport activities have endless benefits for children, as long as they are managed well by parents, au pairs and teachers. If the thought of hustling and bustling your children from one activity to the next sounds daunting, considerably find an au pair on a part-time basis, to manage your child’s schedule and ensure they arrive at each activity on time and well prepared. Further to this, an au pair can facilitate extra-murals at home in the form of cooking / baking, arts and crafts, free play, physical activities and more.

Here at Au Pair Extraordinaire, we are dedicated to helping South African families find the perfect au pair to suit your family’s needs.

If you need help to find an au pair, or need guidance on how to choose the perfect candidate, then please don’t hesitate to contact us.