Extracurricular activities are two words that can cause a parent to cringe. Whether it be the time constraints or the added financial cost, these activities can be a source of added stress on families. Despite the added stress for parents, extracurricular activities such as sports, music programs, or clubs have significant benefits for children and young adults. These advantages often follow students into adulthood and may help them be better prepared for college and career.
Short and Long-Term Benefits
There are a wide number of activities and programs available to students both on campus and in the community. Each of these extracurricular activities has their own short and long-term benefits.
◊ Sports programs are some of the most common extracurricular activities offered and can impact more than just a student’s athletic ability. Sports teams and clubs can help students develop leadership skills, give them a sense of purpose, help them learn to set goals, and even teach them the importance of teamwork. These skills are valuable to future employers and will help students after they leave the classroom and enter the professional world.
◊ School clubs and cultural programs can help students explore their interests and passions.
◊ Performance-based programs such as band, choir, drama, speech & debate can instill students with greater confidence, allow them to be creative, and can teach them how to express themselves.
◊ Language and cultural programs can help students gain a better understanding of our global society and learn to appreciate different customs and beliefs.
◊ Tutoring and academically focused programs can help students improve in more than just their grades. Students who experience success, even if that success comes outside of regular school hours, are more likely to want to learn and apply themselves in school each day.
Above is just a sample of the opportunities and benefits available to your child. For older students, these programs, activities, and clubs can be great sources for college recommendation letters from school faculty and community leaders. These relationships and potential letters make college applications stronger and may improve a student’s chances of getting into the college or university of their choice.
Don’t Over Do It
While extracurricular activities are beneficial to students in many ways, it is important for both parents and students not to take on too much.
Parents may become stressed or overwhelmed when they allow their child to participate in too many activities. Over participation can add strain to a parents schedules and even their finances. Too much involvement can make students burn out and negatively impact their academic performance.
Variety in a student’s schedule is important, and everyone needs time relax and unwind to perform their best. Encourage your child to explore no more than 2-3 activities at a time. Help older student’s priorities and find one or two activities that are really important to them. Students are most successful when they are engaged in their schools and communities, but not stretched thin.
For more ways parents can support their children outside of the classroom, check our Education Outside the Classroom Parent Action Guide here.