Outside the standard framework of any educational curriculum, there are endless opportunities for students to learn new skills and ignite new passions. Extracurricular activities are a vital element in any child’s development, often building on lessons and learnings that begin during school hours.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the importance of extracurricular activities, including a list of ideas and some pointers for getting involved.
5 Important Benefits of Extracurricular Activity
Undertaking extracurricular activities has far-ranging benefits that touch on many aspects of a child’s development. Here are five key reasons why you should be encouraging your child to take on something away from the classroom:
1. Learn new skills
Fundamentally, extracurricular activities allow your child to learn something that could stay with them for a lifetime.
Directly, that skill could be the basis of a hobby or passion that enriches their life for many years. Everything from playing sports to learning an instrument could lead to hours spent doing something they enjoy.
Beyond that, extracurricular activities instil key skills and personality traits that can be helpful in other walks of life. Using the same examples, sports are key to developing teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills. A musical instrument requires perseverance, hand-eye coordination and, above all, creativity.
These are skills that provide continued benefits long after their education is completed.
2. Boost academic performance
A lot of the skills that lie at the heart of extracurricular activities can be used during core academic subjects. Education requires solid problem-solving skills, memory, creativity, and critical thinking. To varying degrees, you can find an extracurricular activity that has an impact on these areas.
Research has been carried out that develops a link between extracurricular participation and better academic performance. In one study by the Texas A&M University, important academic outcomes like reading, math achievement and course grades were all found to be positively influenced by children who engage in extracurricular activities.
3. Broader social skills
The nature of many extracurricular activities means that your child will be engaging with other children in a social setting. Away from the classroom, it’s a good opportunity for them to mix with likeminded children in something they all enjoy. This gives them a chance to develop their social skills, meet new friends and become more confident communicating in groups.
Extracurricular activities can also aid in the development of self-esteem and confidence. It is gratifying when we succeed in something we enjoy, especially after working hard to achieve it. Good self-esteem is an essential tool for positive mental health and wellbeing.
4. Improved time management
Extracurricular activities also give children a great tool through which to learn important time management skills. Through the task of balancing school life and an after school club for example, students will begin to lay the foundations for skills which will benefit them at later stages of their education and in the steps they will take post-education.
5. Impress universities
Extracurricular activities are also a great benefit to a students’ resume when it comes to applying for universities or jobs. Universities, for example, love to see evidence from a prospective student that they are willing to go above and beyond to develop new skills. Extracurricular activities also demonstrate that your child has varied interests and a curiosity to learn beyond the traditional classroom.
Don’t know what options are out there? The following six are some of the most popular extracurricular activities amongst children.
1. Sports teams
The benefits of joining a sports team are extensive. Physically, it encourages a healthy lifestyle and develops key physical attributes. Mentally, it develops teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills while socially, few extracurricular activities bring individuals together like sport can.
2. Part-time job or volunteering
For older students, getting a feel for working life t can be a great way to expose them to industries they have shown an interest in or might like to go into in their career. Part-time jobs and volunteering roles are also excellent ways to develop a resume. Employers love to see a proactive individual who has shown intent to develop their career from an early age.
3. Student body position
Aside from sports, student bodies like a union, debating team or student representation on a school government are all great ways to show a hunger for leadership, responsibility and a desire to tackle difficult subjects. This is also a great way to develop problem-solving and communication skills.
4. Writing/student journalism
Journalism is a very popular career choice and developing an interest in it can often begin by working on a school newspaper. Journalists are required to have great written communication skills; they also need to be excellent investigators and problem solvers. If this is something your child would like to focus on, suggest applying for a position on the school paper.
5. Culture-based clubs
Culture-based clubs might be something as broad as film, music, languages or games. Whatever interests your child, getting involved in a relevant club gives them the chance to socialise with likeminded children.
6. The Arts
Creativity is a key asset for further education and beyond. Those involved in arts clubs like music, drama or visual arts tend to be more creative thinkers and capable of approaching problems from a different standpoint.
Commonly Asked Questions on Extracurricular Activities
Finally, here are some of the extracurricular activity-related questions that are typically asked by parents as their children enter education.
When should my children start extracurricular activities?
There is no absolute answer to this question, and you shouldn’t worry if your child takes a little longer to be ready for extracurricular activities than others. Children should get started when you think they are capable of basic self-care tasks. Things like dressing and feeding themselves should be checked off before you send them off to try something new.
How do I get involved in extracurricular activities?
Schools and local communities are full of exciting activities that could spark your child’s imagination and capture their attention. Try to read your child’s general interests and consider what they may or may not be interested in taking part in. Then, look to their school or the wider community to find an appropriate club for your child.