Dance classes, art classes, team sports, gymnastics-these tried-and-true activities excite many children, but other kids prove to be a more difficult extracurricular fit.
We know that school-age children who are passionate about something are happier, healthier, and more fun to be around. So for those who play to the beat of a different drum, we offer these out-of-the-ordinary suggestions. Use this list to spark your imagination, and more importantly, your child's fancy.
- 3rd Street Yoga offers a variety of yoga and meditation classes ($8 per visit), but their weekly teen yoga classes (Fridays at 5pm) are free.
- Martial arts help build strong minds and bodies while teaching self control and respect. An instructor's qualifications are critical so before enrolling, ask to see and then research instructor credentials, and get assurance that students receive rank advancement certifications from the martial art's official governing body.
- If your kids are climbing the walls, teach them how to do it properly at OKC Rocks, an indoor rock climbing facility housed in Bricktown's old grain silos. Climbers under age 18 must have a parent accompany them or bring a signed, notarized waiver. Online discounts are available. The region's best outdoor rock climbing area is the Wichita Mountains. The Wichita Climbers Coalition posts climbing guidelines and other helpful information at WichitaMountains.org.
- Oklahoma has impressive indoor and outdoor skateboarding venues. Visit ConcreteDisciples.com for skate park locations, ratings, and details, and visit the Oklahoma City Parks site for info about the Mat Hoffman Action Sports Park.
- Challenge yourself and your child by training for a triathlon together. According to USA Triathlon, the sanctioning authority for over 2,000 events, Kids' Triathlons are open to participants as young as 7, while Youth Elite events cater to ages 13-15.
- Vocational technology classes offer high school students a chance to earn college credit or kick-start their careers. Classes are free for some students.
- Volunteer opportunities are plentiful, but parents must check restrictions in advance. Habitat for Humanity welcomes up to five students ages 16-18 with an adult. Meals on Wheels works with student youth groups. Check with local churches and soup kitchens to determine their needs and guidelines. The Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Zoo, and Little River Zoo (405-366-7229) all use student volunteers-some find their volunteers in the summer, so call for details and mark your calendars for 2008 opportunities.
- Introduce your child to cooking and you might not have to do it yourself! Young Chef's Academy helps kids learn how to appreciate and prepare a variety of foods. Classes for kids ages 3-18 are offered weekly.
- Kids with a dramatic flair will enjoy theater classes and productions offered by Lyric Theatre, Oklahoma Children's Theatre, and the Fine Arts Institute of Edmond.
- Knitting can be relaxing and productive. The Gourmet Yarn Co. offers classes for beginners and experienced knitters. Though they suggest participants be at least 13, exceptions are made.
- Does your child want to form a band someday? The Guitar for Kids program offers acoustic and electric guitar lessons where kids play together and learn to work as a group. Special workshops in singing and songwriting, soloing, and guitar technique are also offered.
Get Out More
- 4H Clubs are comprised of kids and their parents with student and adult leaders. Club activities focus on agricultural interests. Clubs form around the beginning of the school year, so now is a good time to contact your local organization.
- Scouting is beneficial for almost everyone. Local clubs include Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, Camp Fire USA, and Boys and Girls Clubs.
- Off-roading opportunities abound in Oklahoma. Find great hiking, biking, equestrian, motorcycle, ATV, and 4×4 trails here. For off-road motorcycling information, visit OkieDirtRiders.com. BMX racers cover over 77 acres at the Yukon BMX Raceway. Newbies may receive a free one-day American Biking Association membership to see if the sport fits.
- If your child is in to horseback riding, OklahomaHorseOnline.com has a nice list of local trails, clubs, guest ranches, and events.
- Get your child interested in gardening with a visit to Myriad Gardens or by joining a local gardening club. Gardening can be a year-round activity when you know how to force bulbs, grow seedlings, create a mini-greenhouse, or cultivate worms (for sale, even!).
Get Wet More
- If your child loves the water, consider the Metro's swim and dive teams. The Chesapeake Swim Club meets at Oklahoma City Community College. The Extreme Aquatic Team meets at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and invites new swimmers to visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Rowing has become a popular sport around the country. The Chesapeake Boathouse offers kids an opportunity to get fit on the water. The Junior Crew, a competitive program for boys and girls ages 13-19, is seeking new recruits now-no experience necessary. The recreational program is for ages 12-19.
- “Escape. Explore. Experience.” Those are the verbs used to describe scuba diving at PADI.com, the website for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. PADI certification means divers have the skills to explore seas around the world. Courses are offered for ages 8 and over.
- Try wakeboarding at the new Central Oklahoma Wakeboarding Center in Guthrie (WakeboardOklahoma.com). Instead of being pulled behind a boat, wakeboarders are drawn through the water by an overhead cable. Open year-round, this family-friendly park offers equipment rentals and sales and provides instruction. Water enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy the fun, but those under 18 must have parental permission.
As you can see, the Oklahoma City Metro offers exciting extracurricular options. So get those precious kids off the couch and out into the world!