Your third grader often comes home with stories of groups engaging in such and such activity at school. You see this as a good opportunity to ask them if they would like to get involved in something, but they always say no. They're not interested in taking part in anything, not team sports, not school clubs, not even the school band. Your spouse is not pleased with their decision and thinks they could use a big push. You're not sure. You didn't participate in much at school as a child, so why should you expect your third grader to be any different.
While some children are joiners and have jam-packed schedules to prove it, others are loners and choose to do little in the way of extracurricular activities. If your child is among them but has a few close friends and otherwise appears to be doing well, you may want to leave them be. They will join in when it feels right to them.
If your child is not really a loner but simply lonely and you think they might benefit from participating in an extracurricular activity, you might want to give them a nudge. Discuss with them the activities offered at their school and encourage them to get involved in one of them. Don't push. Children should never be forced or pressured to participate in an activity. Their defenses will come up and they will not enjoy themselves. They might even lash out and cause trouble.
The best way to get a child involved is to find an extracurricular activity they like, or at the very least, are not opposed to. What does your child enjoy doing? Do they like to run? Perhaps they should try out for track. Do they like to paint and draw? Perhaps they would enjoy being a member of the art club. Do they like to sing and dance? Perhaps they should try out for a play or join the drama club.
Schools offer all sorts of extracurricular activities, and if none of them appeal to your child, perhaps you could change directions and look at activities offered in your community. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Contact the park district office for an activity guide. Check with churches, libraries, hospitals and zoos for volunteer programs. You never know what organizations might offer activities and volunteer opportunities.
Once your child has found a few items of interest, take the time to check them out together. Arrange to observe the class in action or meet with someone about the volunteer program. Ask questions and learn as much as you can about the opportunities. The more your child knows, the more comfortable they will feel and the more apt they will be to join in.
Should your child find something to participate in, be supportive. Make sure they have a way to and from the activity and all of the supplies needed to participate. Go to any events associated with the activity. With your support, your child will participate, and hopefully, they will enjoy themselves. They may even have so much fun that they sign up for the activity again or pursue a new activity altogether.