Why Extracurricular Activities are Imperative
Extracurricular activities are any activity a child participates in outside the typical school curriculum. They can be based on a goal and often serve a specific purpose. These activities include sports, competitive teams, clubs, volunteer programs, or performance art 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 maintaining their body, hygiene, and overall wellness. Physical activity in children lowers their risk for physiological and medical diseases in the future. When participating in physical activity, our brain releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormone. This is also released when we eat chocolate… but that doesn’t mean you can skip out on extracurriculars!
Not only do the endorphins from extracurricular sports support children’s mental health, but 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 anxiety levels. Specifically, recent studies have found that children who got involved during the pandemic had significantly higher anxiety levels 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 a young age can help create a solid foundation for adulthood. Extracurriculars develop the following skills in children:
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 the school, instead frame them as something that improves children’s outlooks on school. Studies researching the effectiveness of extracurriculars on grades have shown that all students participating in them have higher grades than others. They also have a more positive outlook on their future and aspirations.
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 various activities can allow children to create their identity. They can diversify their interests and find passions they did not know they had. Who knows, maybe trying a new extracurricular activity could lead a child to understand their purpose or a teen better to find what they want 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 was written by: Sonne Goode, NCC, LCPC
Sonne Goode is a licensed therapist, professional school counselor, and 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)