Adjustment,  Behavioral Challenges,  Child Therapy,  Parenting,  Self Esteem,  Teen Therapy

Why Extracurricular Activities are Imperative

Extracurricular activities are any activity that a child participates in outside of the typical school curriculum. They can be based on a goal and often serve a specific purpose. These activities are things such as sports, competitive teams,  clubs, volunteer programs or performance arts activities. Most schools offer extracurricular activities but they can also be found in your community! There are many reasons why getting your child  involved in extracurriculars  is so important for their growth and development. Let’s take a look at the top five! 

 

Better Physical and Mental Health 

Physical extracurriculars like sports and clubs can motivate children to exercise and stay active. These clubs can teach them the importance of taking care of their body, hygiene and overall wellness. Physical activity in children lowers their risk for physiological and medical  diseases in their future. When participating in physical activity, our brain releases endorphins also known as the “feel good” hormone. This is also released when we eat chocolate… but that doesn’t mean you can skip out on your extracurriculars! 

 

Not only do the endorphins from extracurricular sports support children’s mental health, these programs also give them a sense of belonging. They  reduce the amount of screen time for children which can in turn result in a better mental state. Children who do not socialize and interact in group settings have been shown to have higher levels of anxiety. Specifically, recent studies have found that children who did get involved during the pandemic had significantly higher levels of anxiety during and after the pandemic than those who did. 

 

Enhances Social Skills

One of the easiest ways for children and adolescents to make friends is through activities! Building social skills at such a young age can help create a solid foundation for adulthood. Extracurriculars develop the following skills in children: 

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Cooperation
  • Teamwork 
  • Relationship building

Being able to work with others is an essential life skill that many of our kids are lacking after being isolated from each other for so long during the pandemic.

 

Helps with Academics

Participating in an extracurricular activity can also benefit children’s academic performance. Rather than thinking of these activities as something that takes away from the focus of school, instead frame it as something that improves children’s outlooks on school. Studies researching the effectiveness of extracurriculars on grades have shown that all students who participate in them have higher grades than others. They also have a more positive outlook on their future and aspirations. 

 

Improves Self-Esteem 

Spending time learning something new or doing something you already enjoy, can be a confidence booster for any of us! Extracurricular activities allow kids to explore and drive their self-esteem. This is a wonderful opportunity to be successful and challenged without the pressure of a good grade. 

 

Provides Exploration of Interests

Delving into a variety of different activities can allow children to create their identity. They can diversify their interests as well as find passions that they did not know they had. Who knows, maybe trying a new extracurricular activity could lead a child to better understand their purpose or a teen to find what they would like to pursue as their career. 

 

Let’s support our children in recovering from the pandemic, get them off their screens, and involve them in extracurricular activities! If you are looking for more opportunities to do so  in your area, our clinicians can help. Reach out and get involved! 

 

Blog post written by: Sonne Goode, NCC, LGPC 

Sonne Goode is a licensed therapist, professional school counselor, and an associate at Your Best Self Therapy. She works predominantly with children and adolescents experiencing anxiety, life changes, school related issues and trauma.  

 

Resources: (Gothenburg & Splashburn, 2022)

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