In today’s world, being well-rounded with a wide range of experience is almost as important as being adept in your particular field of interest. Being well-rounded has also been shown to have proven benefits on children’s intelligence. While you don’t want to sign your child up for lessons the second she’s born, elementary school is a great time to start getting your child involved in things outside of school and home. It’s wise to learn more about how you can supplement educational book learning with extracurricular activities to help your child succeed, both in education and in life.
Extracurriculars allow for exploration of different areas of interest.
Extracurricular activities allow students the opportunity to explore outside the core subjects of “reading, (w)riting, and ‘rithmatic” to discover new interests. These activities can be sports, theatre, music, or anything academically-based like math clubs, debate teams or book clubs. The important part of extracurriculars is that it allows students some freedom from the rigid classroom setting to learn about things that interest them in a less formal setting.
Extracurriculars can help students build social skills.
Not everyone feels comfortable in class enough to raise their hands and answer questions. In fact, interacting with others or having to speak in front of groups can be so fear-inducing and intimidating that some children may avoid it altogether. However, extracurriculars allow students a place and a chance to interact with peers who have common interests in a non-classroom setting.
Students can learn time management & prioritization skills.
Since extracurricular activities typically occur outside of school hours, a certain degree of coordination and time management is required. Your child may want to play multiple sports that all practice at the same time, or may want to be involved with multiple activities that will involve a time crunch. By having to make decisions like which sport to play or which organization to be a part of, your child can learn the value of prioritizing and making difficult decisions.
Extracurriculars teach teamwork.
One of the most valuable skills that youngsters can learn is the ability to work well and with others. Regardless of what future career your child ends up working in, it’s more than likely that they’ll end up needing to work in tandem with other people. Teamwork is even seen in the classroom in the form of group projects and presentations, so the earlier your child can learn the value and importance of collaboration with others, the easier time he’ll have down the road when group situations arise.
When I was growing up in San Diego, California in the 60’s there was a program called “Impetus for the Creative Arts.” Students from around the county were recommended by their teachers to apply and/or audition for 3 free Saturday schools, one in art, one in music, and one in drama. This was well before the plethora of after school programs available today. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Sweet (real name) recommended me for the drama program that was held at Horace Mann Junior High School every Saturday morning for nearly 3 years. I was given ballet training and actor training, and was even promoted to the advanced class. I was cast a Frosine in scene from “The Miser” and taken to a real costume shop to try on a real Moliere play hoop skirt dress. I remember standing in front of the mirror at the costume shop in that purple dress with its rich embroidery and taking off my black-framed spectacles to, for the first time in my life, feel like I was beautiful. This extracurricular activity led to many more performances and an eventual Masters Degree in Theatre Arts and outstanding film acting classes at Carey Scott’s Rehearsal Room. I can dreadfully imagine how the colors of my life would have been muted if this extracurricular had not been possible, and thanks to my dad who worked seven days a week as a carpenter taking time out to drive me down El Cajon Blvd. in his old truck to get me to class on time.