Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities are a great way for students to participate in a safe and productive environment after school has ended. When the bell rings, it doesn’t mean your child’s day is over. In fact, that time of the day typically is the most stressful because of trying to get your child home safely and in a timely manner. That time after school is filled with ample opportunities for you child to continue their development and save you the hassle of picking up your child when the car line becomes messy. After school activities are shown to provide a number of benefits for your child. Getting involved in activities is shown to help children be more extroverted and responsible. Children are overall happier and healthier when they are engaged in things they enjoy doing. Lets discuss some of the greatest benefits after-school activities have to offer.
When your child has an activity to do after school, you know exactly where they will be. There is no possibility of them leaving school unattended or unaccounted for if they have a scheduled activity to go to. Activities are supervised and organized allowing students to be monitored. They allow children to do something they enjoy and be safe while doing it. This also lessens their chances of skipping school. If your child has something fun with their friends to look forward to at the end of the day, it creates an incentive for them to participate in the whole school day in order to go to their activity afterwards. It has been proven that involvement in after school activities improves attendance and aspirations for continuing school in the future.
Healthier and more active
Activities allow your child to be active, that is obvious, but this can also translate to their everyday life. Having some sort of physical activity everyday is extremely important for the overall well being of children and adults. Starting to be active at a young age will promote a healthier lifestyle for the future and allow your child to begin making healthy choices daily. A healthy body equals a healthy mind, which brings us to our next benefit. After-school involvement can even prevent drug use and bad or criminal behavior in future years. When children have an understanding of what is right for their body, they are able to carry this out the rest of their lives.
Emotional stability and overall happiness
Relationships in and out of school are crucial to your child staying consistently emotionally secure. The relationship your child forms with their teacher or other staff members are nurtured in after school programs. Participating in an after school program can become a time that a child can learn how to interact with others, develop interpersonal skills, and learn how to be respectful toward others. Activities promote practicing good character traits as well as teamwork. Forming a strong bond between teacher and student will make them feel more comfortable. Being able to trust adult figures in school makes them more willing to ask questions or express problems they are having. Opening up this dialogue between a child and a trusted adult has prevented children from having to deal with things like bullying, low self esteem, or issues at home, on their own.
Increases academics and test scores
Children are shown to be more involved in school and achieve better grades if they participate in activities outside of the classroom. Youth.gov* states that “a national evaluation found that over 40 percent of students attending 21st Century Community Learning Center programs improved their reading and math grades, and that those who attended more regularly were more likely to make gains (Naftzger et. al., 2007).” Better grades means more confidence, higher self-esteem, and a desire to continue to succeed. Activities are so beneficial to academics because they offer children an outlet outside of studying and school that they can do well in. They are also practicing their use of proper time management. When homework and an activity is on their plate, children quickly learn how to multitask and make the best use of their time. After-school programs can push them to be their best in all aspects of their life, not just in the classroom.
Exploring new interests/hobbies
After school activities are all about variety. There are hundreds of different programs to explore in order to find the right fit for your child. Your child may not always enjoy the first activity they try, but don’t worry, there are plenty more to explore and it is guaranteed they will find one they like. When children have a clear idea of their hobbies and interests from an early age, it can help them make better decisions for their future. If your child has always enjoyed math club and learning math they may want to consider a career in engineering or IT. Maybe your child loves to read or explain things to their peers, they could consider a future job in teaching. Activities are much more than a way to fill time after school, they can tell you and your child a lot about their likes and dislikes along with their strengths and weaknesses.
Creating friendships/ builds confidence
Confidence is something that many children struggle with, particularly in their pre-teen into their teen years. Participating in activities with their peers allows relationships to be cultivated and sustained. Some of the closest friends a child has are developed in elementary/middle school. Getting out and getting involved while interacting with classmates is a great use of time. There are also opportunities for children to become leaders in their specific activity. Having good communication skills and being outspoken will help your child have a more active voice. According to noodle.com* “The Boys and Girls Club study revealed that 82% of teens in the program took part in leadership roles such as student council, being in charge of activities or assisting in the office.” The vast majority of students who participate in activities are setting themselves up to stand out in the future.
Everyone must learn to work well with others. Practically every job requires communication skills and working alongside others. Giving your child the experience of working toward a common goal or to accomplish a task with others is priceless. This will be a transferable skill they will take with them the rest of their lives. What is particularly important is having your child learn to work with someone they may not necessarily like. This allows them to become independent problem solvers and move past a situation they may find uncomfortable.
Helps working families
One of the ways in which these activities can be beneficial is by helping you, the parent. Working, raising children, and running a household can be extremely demanding. But, being able to have a schedule of activities for you child every week can take a lot of the stress off of you. Knowing that your child is engaged in something productive that they enjoy after school is reassuring. According to youth.gov* “Parents concerned about their children’s afterschool care miss an average of eight days of work per year, and this decreased worker productivity costs businesses up to $300 billion annually (Brandeis University, Community, Families and Work Program, 2004 and Catalyst & Brandeis University, 2006).”That two or three hours after school that they spend at their activity can make all the difference for you and what you need to get done for the day. It is a situation in which both you and your child are able to benefit from.
So how do you get your child involved in these activities? There are a number of resources to find an activity tailored to your child’s interests. Start by looking into activities your school provides. Ask the principal what activities they have to offer. Many times your search will stop here because schools tend to offer a wide range of programs. If your child is looking to do something a little different or more out of the ordinary, begin by asking parents, teachers, administrators, neighbors, or even coworkers. Next, contact community organizations. There are a ton of resources right in your own neighborhood that are often overlooked. Try places like the YMCA, The Boys and Girls Club of America, parks and recreation departments, and even local churches. Libraries and museums are also a good resource. Many times, an activity is associated with a bigger company. Doing a little research to find out what company that activity is affiliated with can open the door to even more program options. It is important to keep in mind through this process that you are finding the activity that works best for your child. If you feel your school is offering only activities that your child would not be interested in, don’t settle. Don’t give up after looking into your school’s programs. There are plenty of ways your child can be happily involved.
After-school activities keep children on a path toward success. They allow your child to find what they are passionate about and strive to do their best in it. Getting them involved helps to ensure their safety, productivity, and long-term happiness. The time they spend doing a healthy activity will teach them to make good decisions later on in their life. Making the most out of their present helps them to make the most out of their future.