Solicit Students' Ideas for Clubs and Teams
If you're ready to start an after-school club or sports team, ask your students for ideas — but make sure you've got paper and pen, because kids can come up with endless suggestions when it comes to having a little fun.
Here's one example: Do you know what Japanese animéis? It's the most popular style of cartoon animation in the world. As reported in the March 30, 2008 issue of Osaka's Mainichi Newspaper,animé may have originated in Japan as early as 1917 with a short cartoon titled “Namakura Gatana.” Directed by filmmaker Junichi Kou'uchi, the cartoon featured a samurai using a new sword. Since then, thousands of popular animé films, television series, and video games have captured kids' attention worldwide, including such current favorites as Naruto, Pokémon,and the Kingdom Heartsvideo-game series. If one of your kids — or you — suggests starting an after-school gathering of animé fans, you'll probably be inundated with suggestions from your enthusiastic students as to activities, meetings, rules, field trips, etc. for their new Animé Club.
According to Newtype, a widely read Japanese magazine dedicated to animé, the most-watched animé cartoon in Japan is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Known in Japanese as Suzumiya Haruhi no YūButsu, this popular television series follows the exploits of a high school girl who learns she has the superhuman ability to bend the universe to her will, for good or evil.
How about a chess club? You might not think chess is that popular with kids, but you'd be wrong. The annual World Junior Chess Championship, for instance, sponsored by the World Chess Federation or Fédération Internationale des Echecs (FIDE), has been held since 1951 for players under twenty years old. As of 2007, it attracts over 100 competitors and thousands of youthful spectators from the United States, Russia, China, India, Vietnam, Egypt, Israel, and dozens of other nations. Add to that the World Youth Chess Championship, an annual kids' competition that even includes children under eight years old. The 2007 tournament held in Turkey, and the brilliant victories of Ivan Popov and Valentina Gunina, were witnessed by thousands of eager kids and their parents. If you can sponsor an after-school chess club, your club might be flooded with as many participants as you can handle.
Another suggestion your kids might offer is a debate team. Kids are bursting with strong opinions, and they love to argue. Since you don't allow pointless arguing in the classroom, why not put their genius for repartée to good use in an after-school debating club? Debate is a popular activity, as evidenced by the huge crowds that attend the annual World Schools Debating Championships, a competition for high-school kids that attracts teams from approximately thirty-five countries. A sixteen-year-old member of the 2002 U.S. International Debate Team summed up the feelings of many competitors when she told reporters from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, “It's like the Olympics. I'm so thrilled and honored.” If your kids request a debate team, help them turn their dream into a reality.
Don't take on more after-school responsibilities than you can reasonably handle, and don't create clubs or teams if you don't know what the heck you're doing. You want kids to have fun, but more importantly, you want them to be safe. For example, don't sponsor judo or karate teams if you know nothing about these difficult-to-master sports.
Regarding athletic teams, does your school have a drill team, cheer squad, field-hockey team, foosball team, ice-hockey team, judo team, karate team, lacrosse team, skateboard team, soccer team, or volleyball team in addition to the traditional baseball, basketball, and football teams found in virtually every school? If not, and if you have sufficient expertise and talent to coach kids in any of these sports, consider organizing after-school teams. Get as many ideas from the kids as possible so you can sponsor a team that will have wide appeal.