by Chris Jones

Where did summer go? Within the next couple of weeks, eager parents will happily shuffle their kids into the direction of their bus stop, close the front door and breathe a sigh of relief. On the other side of that coin, terrified children will board the bus for the first time (or be dropped off on a college campus!) and the question will be, “Who cried most? Mother or child?”

Switching from the summer to fall schedules in the home can be quite the adjustment. Each year when school starts for my boys, it takes about a week for each of us to get adjusted.

For me, it’s the return of all-out focus time in my home office. No more blood-curdling screams, shuttling kids to camps, extended bedtimes, and cries of “I’m bored!”

For them, it’s back to a heavily regulated schedule, predictable mornings and evenings, and their choice of after-school activity.

While my sons have gravitated toward sports for their activities — baseball and soccer — my 3-year-old daughter has been taking ballet. Watching her dance and seeing her blossom with her relationships, vocabulary, and creativity outside of dance led me to the theme of this issue — creative after-school activities.

I’m not sure what your kids are into, but creative activities like art, dance, music, and performing arts are highly beneficial to your children. Through the arts, kids learn to create, solve problems, express themselves (which is the basis for art therapy, which worked wonders for one of my boys!) and interpret the world around them. If your child is looking for a change of pace from sports, or is on the fence about what interests them, explore the arts. People from the late Steve Jobs to the ever-funny Tina Fey are prime examples of exceptionally creative minds. Even STEM education is a form of artistic expression. Engineers work with architects to produce some of the most amazing structures, buildings and bridges that begin within one’s imagination and is brought to life by the other’s.

If you’ve never considered creative after-school pursuits for your kids, I hope this issue will help you and your child to explore what’s out there in the Fredericksburg region. There is no shortage of opportunities to get your kids involved. What happens next could surprise you.