By Alicia Dziak

For many parents, back-to-school time also means back to extracurricular activities. Although kids have interests that vary from year to year, finding your child’s latest or greatest passion can be as easy as making a phone call.

Martial Arts

Martial arts are a great form of exercise that also teach kids discipline and respect. Many places that offer these classes also address topics like focus and anti-bullying, so the lessons learned can be carried into the classroom and beyond.

AKT Combatives Academy, located in Olean, offers karate, grappling, kickboxing and mixed martial arts for children, teens and adults. For more information, visit

Kempo Karate, located in Springville, offers classes six days a week, including Little Dragon classes for 4 year olds on Saturday mornings, adult classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights, jujitsu class on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and a tai chi class in the fall. Kempo also offers special family rates. For more information, visit or call (716) 592-5425.


For kids who love to twirl, jump and be on the move, dancing is a fun way to burn energy while building strength and balance.

Dance Arts of Olean offers classes for children, teens and adults, and only admits a maximum of 16 students per class for individualized instruction. For more information, visit

Kay Duffy School of Dance in Springville offers a variety of dance classes for children as young as age 3. For more information, call (716) 592-7045.

Neighborhood School of Dance in Olean offers lessons in various types of dance. For more information, call (716) 373-3330.


For children who might prefer doing cartwheels on the soccer field to actually playing soccer, gymnastics might be a good option, developing kids’ coordination, flexibility and strength.

Flyers Gymnastics in Falconer, offers classes for children ages 18 months–18 years. According to their website, “Whether you want to stay active and fit, develop core strength and flexibility for other sports, or achieve the dream of competing on a gymnastics team, you’ll find the right classes for your goals.” For more information, visit

Horseback Riding

For animal lovers, horseback riding can be a fun and rewarding experience.

Dunham Sport Horses in Little Valley, offers semi-private and private lessons for kids and adults. For more information, visit


For the musically inclined, music lessons can be a great way for kids to express themselves.

“Private music lessons can be a great supplement to in-school lessons because the students get one-on-one attention,” said Miquela Cerrone, former band teacher at ECS. “Kids can also have the opportunity to learn an instrument that isn’t offered in school, such as guitar or piano.”

Wada Music Studios in Allegany offers piano, cello, violin, viola and bass lessons. For more information, call (716) 904-1445.

Alex’s East Main Music Studio, located in Springville, offers instruction for all ages in guitar and a variety of other instruments for all ages. For more information, call (716)  481-1682.

More so than other types of lessons, instrument lessons are often taught by men and women out of their homes, in which case they don’t usually maintain a web site or official business address. By simply asking around, you can usually find classmates who take such lessons and can give you a referral.

Build Confidence

Adding lessons to your child’s schedule can be a key factor in developing strong time management skills, as well as self-confidence. No matter what your children’s interests, signing them up for special lessons can be a great way to round out their education, and is oftentimes a surefire way for them to make new friends with similar interests. If you do some research, talk to other parents and put the effort into finding the right type of lessons, chances are you’ll unlock your child’s potential in a whole new way.