Extra Curricular Activities can be explained as any activity outside of a child's normal curriculum including school and home. Most extra curricular's include same age peers and are instructed by a facilitator. Experts in child advancement suggest that participation in extracurricular activities on a regular basis is the best way to help children develop their individual personality, cut down on emotional stress, and enhance social or academic skills that could benefit them in the future.
There are several reasons parents choose to involve their children in an activity outside of school. The benefits can be so wide and varied. For my daughters I chose to put them both into extra curricular activities because I knew that I wanted to raise well rounded children. I wanted them to have a balance of both academics and skill, because my belief is that one enhances the other. I also made sure that academics came first. My oldest, Kennedy (9), needed to know that it is just as important for her to be book smart as it is to excel in a sport. So before she was able to participate she would have to establish strong work habits. Note: I start Kennedy into programs a few months after school has started, meaning she needs to have her school routine down. Not only did I want to avoid feelings of her being overwhelmed, it was a way for me to monitor if she was actually prepared to take on the task of adding additions onto her schedule. For my younger daughter, Karter (2), it was making sure that I allowed for her to share experiences with other children, but reminding myself that individual learning and free play is also essential.
I have broken down my top reasons to consider having your child join a sport, club, or even volunteer. Because building strong children doesn't equate to books only, but a diverse amount of experiences that will build your child's resiliency.
1. Enhances Your Child's Academics- if a child learns something new in an after school activity, it could boost their understanding of school subjects — even if that activity doesn’t relate directly to classwork. Discovering that they have a talent for something can give children a new source of confidence or passion that translates into their behavior at school.
2. Increasing Life and Social Skills- Regardless of whether they’re establishing new relationships, or building upon existing friendships, after school activities provide an ideal environment in which to nurture social skills and confidence. Numerous extracurricular activities work to teach children the value of working as a team to achieve a mutual goal — a skill that will benefit them in their future occupation.
3. Building Happy Children- After school activities offer a positive environment in which children can grow and thrive when parents are working and unable to make it home for right after school. Many adults today stay at work after the school day has ended. After school activities remove the temptation to sit in front of a television set. With this being said children are able to burn off extra energy, relax their minds, relieve childhood stress associated with school. Basically it's a break, and we all need breaks!
4. Creating Healthy Habits- Children can begin to learn concepts of time management and responsibility. As I said before children have to find a balance between school, home and activity. They have to begin to understand how to manage their time and follow schedules to ensure they are successful in multiple things at once. Note: Please, please, please allow your child to also have free time. They should continue to enjoy the spontaneity of just being little. Nothing is more upsetting than a child who is overbooked. This could be counteractive as it can create stress and perfectionism types of personalities. They also have to begin understanding concepts of discipline because skills are taught by someone other than parent/teachers, as well as working together to complete a goal with same like peers.
5. Building Stronger Futures!- Creating more options for children sets them up for success. When we begin to limit the amount of experiences for our children we begin to pigeon hold them into what "we want" them to be. Allow them to explore, make mistakes, and experience failure. As parents we have to prepare our children for reality based situations.
- An extra curricular activity should be fun and a creative outlet and should never take over academic interest.
- Getting used to video games/i-pad is not an extra curricular activity.
- We should not force our ambitions on our kids under disguise of extra curricular activity.
- An extra curricular activity is a structured fun time for the child; we must ensure child has adequate unstructured activity time as well; else you will create a slave to timetable driven life.
- You may have taken trouble in making your child join/take up a specific activity but if your child does not enjoy it – just quit! You may be doing more harm than good. But also challenge them to complete, because we want to teach children to finish things they commit to.
As if we don't have a million other things on our plate, don't let time or money be your reason. It takes a village. Find local resources and free activities in your community. If travel is hard, find programming linked with your child's school. Be creative when looking for reduced price activities such as your local churches and YMCAs. Inquiring goes a long way. Sacrifices are to be made as parents, outcomes will be worth it!