So, what does your tween like to do? If he or she is a fan of animals, consider channeling that energy by volunteering. The Humane Society offers resources for parents, as well as examples of how other tweens have helped the animals in their communities. Get in touch with a local animal shelter or vet's office to talk about volunteering. You and your tween can walk dogs, socialize cats, and dole out kibble and treats -- no veterinary degree needed. Working with the animals is a great way to help out a worthy cause, and it also helps your tween learn the ins-and-outs of responsible pet care.
Cooking lessons are another way to teach your tween a valuable life skill -- while having a good time, of course. Teach them how to make their favorite dishes, snacks, special-occasion treats or even a whole meal. If your tween really has the gourmet bug, step it up a notch -- check with a culinary institute or grocery chain to see if they offer age-appropriate cooking classes. Learning how to cook gives your tween something tasty to show off to the rest of the family.
Physical activities like sports and dancing are also a good idea for your tween. They promote good fitness and allow hyperactive kids to run off excess energy. Most sports leagues and dance classes are based on age group, allowing your tween to socialize with their peers in an environment that's less rigid than school. Physical activities also help tweens feel more comfortable with their bodies, which is a big help for someone who's going through growth spurts and dealing with the resulting awkwardness. Yoga is another possibility to consider -- lots of yoga studios have classes specifically for kids, and there are DVDs available for you and your tween to use at home.
Tweens are a unique age group with particular needs, and choosing the right after school activity can be a challenge. Finding something to suit the interests of your tween and keep them engaged might take some trial and error, but remember that there are lots of options. Soon you'll find something that works for everyone in your family -- except, perhaps, the neglected TV.