Your 8 1/4-year-old: Extracurricular activities

Your 8 1/4-year-old: Extracurricular activities

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Your 8-year-old now

Extracurricular activities expose a child to new experiences that help her learn and grow. But there are so many options out there, it can be hard to decide what to sign up for.

Some tips:

  • Don't overbook. Most kids this age do best with no more than three extracurricular activities: One social (like scouting), one athletic (soccer), one artistic (piano lessons or painting). Some educators recommend only one or two activities at a time. Space them out during the week so that your child isn't running from one thing to another on weekends.
  • Ease into team sports. Organized games provide exercise but are adult-directed and involve little spontaneity. Limit your child's participation to one sport per season and suggest different ones throughout the year. Avoid introducing the "elite athlete" mentality at this young age.
  • Help your child to be well-rounded. Give her chances to explore a range of activities. Be wary of summer camps that turn play into work (like sports, computer, or academic ones).
  • Watch for red flags. Moodiness, nervousness about an activity, and making excuses not to go may be signs your child needs more free time.

Your life now

Looking to wring more dollars from your budget? Try using cash over credit wherever possible. Studies show that people spend almost 30 percent more when they rely on credit cards rather than carrying cash.

Though more inconvenient, using cash makes people think twice about a purchase because you can literally see the money leaving your wallet. It's less abstract than a credit card statement that won't show up for weeks. Even checks or a debit card, which functions like cash, can be tempting to use more freely than greenbacks and coins.

Bonus: In addition to spending less, you help send the message to your child that buying things takes money out of your wallet (instead of the message that plastic magically makes anything possible!).

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