School is a great place for children to develop their academic minds, as they learn foundational skills in core subjects. However, it is important for students to exercise their creative minds as well. Many schools include art and music courses in their curriculum, but the arts are not prioritized as much as other subjects like math or science. Consequently, classes are likely to be conducted on a more infrequent basis—weekly, for example—or not offered altogether. This is where extracurricular activities can come in. Extracurricular activities provide opportunities for children to expand their knowledge outside the classroom and use their free time productively.
Here are 5 benefits involvement in extracurricular activities can have on students:
Discover Interests and Passions
Academic curriculum usually needs to adhere to state and national standards, meaning that all students are required to take certain courses and learn the same material. Some schools may offer different electives that students can take, but these electives might not always align with a student’s interests. Thus, extracurriculars are a different means for students to do things other than what is required of them at school. Extracurriculars can help students discover new interests, as well as expand on current ones. Whether it is building upon their love of cooking videos by taking cooking classes or cultivating their speaking skills by joining the debate team, there are so many activities for students to choose from. Unlike academic courses, extracurricular activities (aside from electives) are not graded; this relieves the pressure of needing to do well and allows students to focus on enjoying the tasks at hand.
Develop Hard and Soft Skills
Depending on what the activity is, students can learn both hard and soft skills. Hard skills refer to more technical, specific skills. An example of a hard skill would be knowing how to use Adobe Illustrator for graphic design. Soft skills, on the other hand, are usually interpersonal and intrapersonal traits that affect your work. Common examples of soft skills are communication, leadership, and problem-solving. Hard skills require more formal and specialized training and experiences, but both types of skills are important for succeeding in classroom and workplace settings. Since many students do not have formal work experience before entering college, extracurriculars can be used to fill in those gaps in their resume. The skills gained from these experiences are often transferable to entry-level positions.
Promotes Physical Health and Activity
There are numerous activities that encourage students to stay active—sports being a popular one. Many parents choose to have their child participate in youth sporting activities. Doing so allows children to then develop their skills over a longer period of time. The majority of sports also encourage teamwork, as children will need to learn how to cooperate and work together with others towards a common goal. Dance is another activity that can keep children active. Sports and dance usually have structured practices, which can teach children discipline and consistency. These extracurriculars can also have a competitive element to them too, which depending on whether that can be a motivating factor for your child, can be something to consider pursuing.
Fosters Sense of Community and Belonging
Clubs and organizations often act as avenues for students to find like-minded others by bringing together people that share a common interest. By surrounding oneself with others similar to them, students can feel like they are part of a community. Having a support system can make students feel less alone, as these are people that will help them navigate through the challenges school can bring. For many students, their involvement in extracurricular activities also becomes part of their identity. Identifiers like being a “band kid” or “basketball player” can contribute to one’s understanding of their sense of self, but it is also important to remember that one does not have to be confined to these labels.
Make College Applications More Well-Rounded
As students get older, there is a larger emphasis placed on their participation in various clubs, volunteer opportunities, and other organizations. Colleges, in particular, take into account a student’s holistic performance, which includes both academics and activities outside of coursework, when determining acceptances. While a high GPA and standardized test scores are essential components of a student’s application, they are not the only factor that matters in the admissions process. That being said, students should not be solely motivated by the premise of looking more appealing to college admission officers. The quality and depth of involvement is more significant than the number of activities a student has, as it demonstrates dedication and commitment. That is why it is key for students to invest time in activities they are genuinely interested in.
How You Can Help Your Child Find the Right Extracurricular Activity
There is no shortage of activities out there for children to participate in—your main problem will probably be figuring out which ones would best fit your child. If your child has no idea where to begin, you should have them brainstorm a list of their interests and hobbies. This gives your child the time to reflect on what they enjoy or want to try doing. You can then provide suggestions of activities you believe they would like based on the list they compiled. Your child might not immediately enjoy each activity you enroll them in, so make sure to listen to your child’s feedback. Parents should avoid pressuring children to continue with an activity they do not genuinely enjoy. Some children simply require a little push and more patience before they decide they want to continue with an activity, but others know from the get-go. You know your child best, so it is up to you to communicate with your child to determine what the case is. The possibilities are endless—have your child try a bunch of different activities and eventually, they will fall in love with one!
Student Hires Supports Extracurricular Activities
At Student Hires, we place a strong emphasis on helping students excel both inside and outside of the classroom. Our programs aim to provide students with the right resources to do well academically and to prepare students in various areas of career development. We have several programs ranging from K-12 after-school/summer programs to workforce development programs. In line with the conversation around extracurriculars, we also offer enrichment programs that allow students to explore their creative passions. Contact us to learn more about how we can create a custom-tailored program to meet your needs.
Extracurricular activities can lay a foundation for more long-term recreational pursuits. For some students, what started off as just an extracurricular helped shape their career path—allowing them to pursue their passions and do what they love for a living. For others, these activities provide an outlet for them to express themselves freely and exercise their creativity. Regardless, the benefits of participating in extracurricular activities—especially starting at a young age—cannot be ignored.