Allowing your child to get involved in extracurricular activities at school is a wise choice, and it can be very important in helping them to develop many working skills, people skills, and more.
by Joy Burgess
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There are many high schools out there today that provide a plethora of extracurricular activities. Some occur before school, some after school, and a few may even take place on the weekends. While some parents are a bit dubious about their children participating in extracurricular activities, these activities actually bring with them many benefits. Allowing your child to get involved in extracurricular activities at school is a wise choice, and it can be very important in helping them to develop many working skills, people skills, and more. Of course, while a few activities is a great idea, there is a point where you need to draw a line. Here is a closer look at some of the benefits of extracurricular activities for your child, and how you can know when these activities become too much.
The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
If you aren't sure whether or not you should let your high school student get involved in extracurricular activities, you definitely need to consider all the benefits that come along with these activities. Here is a look at just a few benefits your teen will enjoy if you allow them to get involved with these activities.
Benefit #1 – Learning Time Management and Prioritizing
– One great benefit of your teen being involved in extracurricular activities is that they will learn about time management and prioritizing things in their life. As adults we get very used to juggling a variety of different tasks and commitments. Our teens need to learn how to do this as well, and getting involved in these activities can give them some practice at it.
Benefit #2 – Getting Involved in Diverse Interests – Getting involved in extracurricular activities also allows students to get involved in diverse interests. It is important for your teen to be very diverse in their interests. These activities allow them to explore various interests that they may have.
Benefit #3 – Learning About Long Term Commitments
– Teens learn about long term commitments when they are involved in extracurricular activities as well, which is another excellent benefit. When the join one of the activities or clubs, they commit themselves to that activity for a period of time. If they don't hold up to their end of the deal, no doubt they'll hear about it from their peers and perhaps even teachers. Learning to take on commitments is important, and these activities can teach your child this important lesson.
Benefit #4 – Making a Contribution – Extracurricular activities allow your child to make a contribution in some way. It shows that they are getting away from just thinking about themselves and contributing to something else. This is important in their growth as a person.
Benefit #5 – Raises Self Esteem – Many times, being involved in extracurricular activities helps to raise the self esteem of teens. There are many teens that feel worthless or that there is nothing they are good at. Teens struggle with self esteem, and these activities are a way that they can build self esteem. Everyone wants to find something that they are really good at, and extracurricular activities provide them with a way that they can get involved in something and really shine, giving their self esteem a boost.
Benefit #6 – Building Solid Relationship Skills – Your teen will have the benefit of building solid relationship skills as well when they get involved in extracurricular activities. Teens need to get involved in social activities and learn how to appropriate act in social situations and these activities give them a chance outside of school to do this, while they are still being supervised by adults.
Benefit #7 – Looks Great on College Applications
– Yet another benefit of allowing your teen to get involved in extracurricular activities is that it looks great on college applications. Most colleges not only look at grades, but they take a look at extracurricular activities that students are involved in while they are in high school. They want to see that students are getting out there and doing more than just book work. The activities that teens are involved in reveal a lot about them, and definitely will say something to the college admissions committees.
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How Much is Too Much?
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Of course, while there are definitely many excellent benefits to extracurricular activities for your teens, you need to consider how much is too much. Getting involved in a few different activities can be a great choice, and is definitely beneficial, but too many activities can end up having negative effects. Teens involved in too many activities often end up having academic problems, or they may not get the rest and recreation that they need. It's important that you talk to your teen and set some limits to extracurricular activities. Have them pick out a couple of their favorites and make sure they can handle them. For freshmen, you may even want to limit the activities to one, until you see how they handle the activity and their school work. Then they can work up to balancing more activities if they perform well. Some kids feel like they have to be involved in many activities to be a success, and this is not beneficial to them. It's important that kids don't try to "do it all," but that they have a passion and commitment to a few activities, which definitely builds character.
If your kids want to get involved in extracurricular activities, let them. There are definitely excellent benefits that they'll enjoy. While it can be tough to play taxi driver to all these activities, keep in mind that you are doing it for their well being and future success. Just make sure you put your foot down if they try to take these activities too far.
Joy Burgess is 28 year old wife and step mom, currently living in Arizona. Her family includes her husband, step son, step daughter, and dog, Chewy. Along with being a full time step mom, Joy also works full time as a writer and musician. Hobbies and interests include scrapbooking, gardening, playing the piano, cooking, and finding a few spare moments of quiet time alone.
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Extracurricular activities? (Photo credit: ksevik)
Many parents and students do not understand the importance of extra-curricular activities. Over the years I have had to persuade a number of parents to allow their children to continue participating in extra-curricular activities, because they felt that these activities distracted their offspring from their academic work. This scenario tended to unfold either when a student was struggling academically or when the student wanted to focus totally on academics, to the exclusion of everything else. They felt that extra-curricular involvement was a waste of precious time and that it caused their children to get home too late in the evening.
Nothing could be further from the truth than this notion of wasting time. Academic subjects and extra-curricular activities complement each other and develop a well-rounded, socially skilled, and healthier student. There are so many possible extra-curricular activities that each student can choose one that appeals to him or her personally. Activities range from athletics, various sports, scouts, girl guides, debating, music and chess to paramilitary groups like the cadets. This list is not even exhaustive. Some students choose more than one pursuit.
Extra-curricular activities help to develop the whole student. We cannot just produce one-dimensional students in our schools. Many students use their skills in extra-curricular activities like athletics or sports and their academic ability to gain athletic or sports scholarships to various universities. Numerous students from my former school are granted athletic scholarships to American universities in this way.
Researchers like Massoni, Erin ( 2011 ) and others have listed many benefits derived from participation in extra-curricular activities at school. I have seen the same benefits among my former students. Let us consider some of them.
Students who are involved in extra-curricular pursuits tend to improve their academic grades as well. This may be due to increased self-esteem, motivation and better time management. They become better organized in the classroom. They demonstrate a reduction of at-risk behavior and a heightened sense of belonging, resulting in better behaviour.
They learn useful new skills from their chosen activity, and in integrating these activities into their everyday school lives, they learn time management, critical thinking, teamwork and social skills. They develop life-long relationships with their peers and learn how to lead others. These skills will be beneficial in later life and in the workplace.
Extra-curricular activities also foster a sense of commitment to a cause or purpose and they reduce selfish behaviour. Students become more marketable in the workplace.
Through the avenue of extra-curricular activities students find it much easier to gain admission into universities. Modern universities are more interested in recruiting students who have something to offer besides academic qualifications. They seek out students who can make a contribution in other areas to the university and the society at large. Many universities and some schools make money and gain prestige through their extra-curricular engagement in various arenas.
Hopefully, more parents and students will see the importance of extra-curricular activities and diversify and deepen their interests and hobbies. The whole society will benefit. Finally, as one of my readers, AKGM, commented below: “A lot of careers are built directly from hobbies.”