Drama club, track and field, debate team, soccer – extracurricular activities and sports aren’t just fun ways to pass the time, say experts. These types of pursuits yield great personal gains, too, like:
- Physical exertion. Activities like high-endurance sports help kids expend pent-up energy and combat stress, while also keeping them physically fit. If your child shies away from extremely competitive sports, look for options that are more inclusive, such as volleyball or hiking.
- Socialization. Interaction with peers encourages positive behavior and teamwork, both of which help build confidence and new friendships. It also helps promote a sense of belonging with others who share and enjoy the same interests, without fear of being judged.
- Collaboration. Sports and other activities inspire team spirit, enabling children to recognize their contribution while also seeing themselves as part of a whole. Learning to trust, communicate and share are lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime.
- Career development. Special interest clubs can hone a personal passion into a professional calling. They can also provide kids with a fun learning experience, without the pressures of homework and tests.
- Concentration and coordination. Creative classes, such as dance and drama, require focus. They also help your child develop and strengthen their motor and language skills, which serve to boost their performance in school. Other types of activities, such as chess or computer club, can improve their ability to solve problems and strengthen their deductive powers of reasoning.
- Autonomy and individuality. Through extracurricular activities and sports, children can find and define themselves. Who they are in the classroom is not necessarily who they want to be. Freely expressing themselves in after-school clubs empowers them to own who they are and fosters independence, a sign of self-esteem.
- Potential and growth. Aspiring to bring more to the game, so to speak, motivates children to test their limits and push beyond them. Building upon their accomplishments, they can envision new challenges and goals for themselves. Even setbacks can be a learning tool, as children find their own way to navigate around them.
- Time management. Between schoolwork and responsibilities at home, learning how to balance extracurricular activities takes planning and perseverance on your child’s part. A challenge, but it can be done, and keeping up with a hectic schedule is a sign of growth and maturity.
- Broadened horizons. Trying something new – or a number of new things – expands your child’s mind and invites them to see beyond the familiar. Opening them up to a diversity of interests and experiences allows them to decide for themselves what resonates and what feels right.