As a parent, it’s normal to be concerned about how well your child does in school. Our kids need for us to support and encourage them with schoolwork, but they also need to spend time doing something they love outside of school. Hobbies help kids build self-esteem, develop a talent, and hone skills that will serve them in school and throughout their lives. There’s no mistaking that hobbies can put a strain on your family’s budget, but they don’t have to when you help your child find their dream hobby with these money-saving tips.

Tips to Make Hobbies Fit in Your Budget

The first step is to help your kids find the hobby that’s right for them. The blog My Stay at Home Adventures suggests encouraging an activity they have been drawn to on TV, such as admiration for a certain athlete or famous ballerina. Taking a cue from their interests increases the chance that they’ll stick with it, which means you can feel good about investing in the necessary supplies. Even better, encouraging children’s interests is not only money-smart, but it also helps develop a love of learning. When you’re ready to get a hobby starter kit or other essentials, look for deals from online retailers to help keep costs down, especially if it’s a hobby that tends to be expensive. You can often find weekly sales and coupon codes for stores like Walmart and special offers and cashback offers from Target.

Once you have an idea of what you can expect to spend on supplies and lessons, set a hobby budget. This can actually be a good money lesson for your child, and it’s also a great incentive for you both to give it your all. That doesn’t mean you should force them to do a hobby they hate, which could backfire. However, since your budget doesn’t allow for trying new hobbies every week, do what you can to encourage them and really set them up for success. Help them get to lessons on time, and set up a spot in your home where they can practice their hobby.

Ideas for Budget-Friendly Hobbies

  • Dance – Of course, we recommend dance as one of the best hobbies for kids! Having any hobby helps build self-esteem, and this is especially true for dance. Along with self-esteem, dance develops coordination, improves physical fitness, and helps with focus. Dance can also be very budget-friendly. You can save money on dance wear and accessories by finding daily specials and online deals for retailers like Amazon.
  • Music – Learning to play an instrument is another great way for kids to be exposed to the arts, and music lessons develop skills that help kids do well in school. There are ways you can make music lessons affordable, such as group lessons, swapping services if you have a talent to offer, and buying a used instrument.
  • Free Online Activities – Whether your child’s interests are in science, computers, the arts, or some combination, the internet is an endless source for activities kids can do online as well as instructions for things to do in real life. For example, Earth Science Jr. is a great online springboard for discovering fun and educational activities. You can turn a love of science into a hobby by doing kitchen experiments like making a glass of “lava.” Many of today’s kids will end up having careers that involve computers, making computer hobbies ideal for preparing for their future. Most tech hobbies are free to do, and your local library can be a great resource for getting started. For those that aren’t free, the Washington Post recommends discount websites for activities such as learning computer coding, graphic design, and animation.

Even if your child’s hobby doesn’t turn into a future career, it is guaranteed to help them in school and in life. Education is much more than what goes on in the classroom, and what better way to learn about the world than by doing something they love? And with these smart, money-saving tips, your child’s new hobby may be much more affordable than you think.

Lillian Brooks is the founder of http://learningdisabilities.info. For years, Lillian worked as a special education teacher with a focus on teaching children with learning disabilities. She created http://learningdisabilities.info/ to offer information and understanding to parents of children with learning disabilities, as well as adults who are in need of continued support in order to succeed.

Photo credit: Unsplash

It was no surprise to us when our newly launched Mentor Match program took off like gangbusters in 2016. Right away, we saw how offering low-resourced youth the opportunity to meet regularly with a role model working in a field that piqued their interest could be a gateway to transformation … for both mentor and mentee.

What we knew before launching Mentor Match was that mentoring nurtures positive youth development – youth are more likely to succeed in life and avoid risky behaviors when supported by a caring adult. What we didn’t realize was that high-risk youth – or youth with barriers to achieving economic and social mobility – can benefit profoundly from formal and informal mentoring.

According to The Mentoring Effect, a study completed in 2014 by MENTOR, The National Mentoring Partnership, at-risk youth with mentors are:

  • 130% more likely to hold a leadership position in a club, school council,
    sports team, or other group
  • 81% more likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activities
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities
  • 55% more likely to enroll in college

Wow, and yes, we’re on the right track with Mentor Match! Mentor Match is a component of our High School Enrichment Program, which supports high school students as they navigate their post-high school college and career paths. Funded by The Angell Foundation and Cathay Bank, students select their level of participation in a variety of interesting activities – teaching assistantships, summer internships, leadership team – that fit with busy schedules.

Mentor Match partners youth with arts professionals. Mentors coordinate monthly conversations and real-life experiences with their mentees about their post-high school educational/career options as well as steps to achieve their career goals. They also coach students on college application personal statements.

We’re delighted to share with you the experiences from one of our mentor/mentee teams, Melinda Sullivan and Nadine Aguirre, who both reaped significant benefits from their partnership. Here’s what Mentor Melinda had to say:

Becoming a mentor to Nadine & Zuleny through everybody dance!  was an incredible opportunity. I had been an everybody dance!  Teaching Artist in the past, but this was a cool way to work with the students differently and more intimately. The girls and I would meet about once a month, and mostly in the studio, as they shared with me in the first meeting that they wanted to get stronger as tap dancers. They pushed themselves to grow technically and as improvisers. I was so impressed with their level of dedication to their dreams, while still keeping up their busy schedules. I was able to invite Nadine to several dance workshops, and was happy to assist in other tap opportunities, for instance working with Chloe and Maud Arnold’s youth company. I personally will never forget the mentorship I had from professional artists when I was in high school, and hope that the Nadine and Zuleny will take with them what still impacts me today: belief in myself, my art, and in positive relationships. I look forward to being in their lives as a resource and a cheerleader!

Mentee Nadine said this:

Becoming a mentee to Melinda Sullivan gave me many opportunities to explore dance through someone else’s point of view, especially someone who has been successful with dance. It was an amazing experience to create a bond with Melinda and get closer with Zuleny by going outside of everybody dance! and meeting up in new places. I experienced many opportunities given to me by Melinda, for example taking private tap classes with her which was an advantage to improve my tap dancing and my musicality. I also received a scholarship with the help of Melinda to join a youth tap company called Sole Talk that was led by Chloe and Maud Arnold. I will take all the skills and advice Melinda gave me throughout this process and keep them inside my mind and heart.

Your life experiences can transform a young life! Learn more about mentoring at https://www.mentoring.org/. And if you’re interested in becoming an arts mentor with us, visit https://www.everybodydance.org/contact/, scroll down and type “Mentor Match” in the message section!