How to choose an extracurricular activity
Lucy Quick is co-founder and Principal of Perform. Here, she gives her tips for choosing extracurricular activities for children:
Nowadays, there's so much choice when it comes to selecting after-school or weekend activities for your child it can be a tricky process.
I've been running Perform for 17 years now and, based on that, many people ask me what they should look out for when selecting a specialised activity for their child. So I thought I'd write about the questions I ask - both as an organiser of such an activity and also a mother of two young children myself.
1. Do they offer a free trial? I ALWAYS suggest that your child undertakes a free trial session to see if you both like it. I think it's so important that the children get the opportunity to try it out before you pay the fees. It's also useful for you to see if you're comfortable with the logistics of the class and how it works with your schedule.
2. Are the teachers/ class leaders specially trained to teach the topic and do they have qualifications/experience relevant to what they're doing? Chat to them and find out their background when you first go - you don't want someone whodoesn't have the right training for the specified activity. At best, it will be uninformed and, at worst, it could be dangerous.
3. What are the teacher's aims for the class and what sort of feedback will you get on your child's progress? Find out what your child will get out of it from the teacher's perspective. Detailed feedback may be based on the ratio of staff to children but the response you get to a question like that is a good indication of whether an organisation puts the child at the heart of the activities or not.
4. Are there any personal recommendations or testimonials? If you can, try and chat to other parents to see if anyone else has tried the activity before or go online to see if there are any reviews.
5. Do the teachers have a clearance from the DBS? The Disclosure and Barring Service has replaced the CRB. This is really vital and standard when working with children, so should be a given.
6. Do the organisers have public liability insurance? A certificate should be displayed at the venue. If it isn't, you might want to ask to see it.
7. Is there a first aider on site and do they have a first aid kit? At Perform, all of our Producers are first aid-trained so there is always a member of staff who can administer first aid if required.
8. Do they have clear Policies & Procedures? In the event of accidents or other unexpected incidents, are they and you clear about what would happen? For example, did the organiser insist on your contact details (and at least one other person's too). We always require contact details for three different people for each child at Perform that way we know exactly who to contact if needed.
9. Do they have clear and fair Terms and Conditions? If you want to cancel because of illness or if your child changes their mind, what will happen to any fees you have paid?
10. Finally - does your child enjoy it? After all, they have to do it each week so it's important that they are happy to go and actually enjoy the class itself!
Perform runs weekly drama, dance and singing classes for 4-7s and 7-12s in Esher and Weybridge. Perform X, a brand new street and hip-hop class for children age 6-12, lauches in Esher in January 2017. Visit perform.org.uk/x to book a FREE TRIAL.
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