Why extracurricular activities are important for your child’s development?
Children go to school to acquire new knowledge and, ultimately, achieve academic success. All of this is supposed to lead to choosing an appropriate career and thriving in every way. But to grow into stable, confident adults, they need to also have the chance to learn outside the standard framework of an educational curriculum. Extracurricular activities are vital for children’s development, and participating in them regularly can help kids cope with stress, strengthen their social relationships, develop their personalities, and improve academic skills. Let’s dive deeper into these benefits.
Improved academic performance
Different after-school activities can enhance different skills that can be helpful in academic challenges. Education requires critical thinking, creativity, memory, and problem-solving skills.
For example, engaging in artistic activities can trigger a young creative mind which can later acquire a better understanding of poetry, music, and other things taught in school.
Engaging in sports can improve problem-solving skills, especially if the specific sport requires strategizing. A study by Ashley Green (Texas A&M College of Education & Human Development) proved that participating in extracurricular activities can result in math achievements, better reading, and higher grades.
Children grow emotionally and physically when they engage in things outside their educational curriculum. They don’t just get better at whatever extracurricular activity they are pursuing – they also become more tuned in to other aspects of their lives.
For example, baseball is a super-popular sport, and it’s a big part of a lot of kids’ lives. Engaging in a team sport like baseball can have huge benefits for kids: they learn to strategize, they learn how to be part of a team, and they become physically healthier. Even a seemingly small and standard thing, like making a list of all the baseball training aids they need, can be an exercise that encourages kids to strategize, think responsibly, and be more independent.
Even though it seems early, children start gaining self-esteem as soon as they are born, and it develops slowly over time. First, confidence comes from the feeling of safety, acceptance, and love from parents. Then toddlers build it further by developing skills and feeling good about themselves when they manage to use these skills.
Later on, extracurricular activities will also help kids develop confidence-boosting skills. Striving to become better at something will give them a sense of purpose and drive. They will feel in control of their lives and have the independence to set and achieve their own goals. This can, in turn, make them better prepared for challenges at school.
The standard framework of an educational curriculum is basically the same for every child. However, we know that not every child is the same. They have different interests and are gifted with unique talents. Participating in after-school activities can help them explore various interests and find something they are talented at.
Of course, you can’t expect kids to stick to the first activity they try. This is a possibility, but self-exploration is all about trial and error, even for adults, and especially for kids. The most important thing is that children become more diverse in their likes and dislikes.
We hear a lot about children being “socially awkward” because of their (and our) dependence on technology. This is partially true. The situation has become worse in the previous two years due to the pandemic and social distancing.
Extracurricular activities are usually done in a group setting so they can learn how to interact with their peers. Naturally, they will learn how to function in a team and respect the value of teamwork. The greatest value is developing friendships – some of them might last for a lifetime.
Coping with stress
Schoolwork, exams, and striving to get good grades can be stressful for kids. When they are focused only on academic success, they can develop anxiety. Having some fun activity “on the side” will keep their mind off of their troubles, which may not seem serious for you, but they certainly are for them. Also, the satisfaction and optimism that come from having a hobby or an interest can naturally lower the levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Developing positive habits
After-school activities can help children develop positive habits that can affect their academic success and independence. These include the development of structure and routine, being involved in the community, managing their time efficiently, and being persistent.
Building up a good resume
Finally, extracurricular activities can have a purely academic goal. They can help build a students’ resume and improve their chances when applying for universities or jobs. Many universities are interested in how their applicants choose to spend their free time, and after-school activities may just play a key role when they have their doubts about a potential student.
When choosing extracurricular activities for your children, make sure to include them in the decision-making process. Not all kids are into sports, even though the benefits of physical activities are undeniable. Consider other options, such as community service, painting, culinary arts, science clubs, debating team, foreign languages, blogging, photography, etc. Work it out together with your child, support them on this path of finding themselves, and enjoy the journey.