Exploration is the only way for your child to discover what they like and are enthusiastic about. That is why today's post delves into a subject on which parents and their children are likely to be divided. If you want to learn about the 7 advantages of extracurricular activities for high school students, this post is for you!
High school offers students excellent opportunities to engage in activities external to their formal academic commitments. By definition, extracurricular activities are “organised student activities (such as athletics) connected with school and usually carrying no academic credit”. The reality is that extracurricular activities are a little more complicated regarding college applications because they call for a continuous time commitment, a certain level of responsibility and initiative, and a level of leadership that cannot be found in the classroom.
Examples of extracurricular activities:
You can use these questions to determine what extracurricular activities your child should take part in before adding one to their schedule:
As a parent, you may be concerned that your child won't be up for extracurricular activities after school or that they are far too time-consuming and can negatively affect their overall performance. Interestingly, when you participate in something you are interested in, brain functionality increases, directly influencing your ability to concentrate and manage your time better. Therefore, if your child engages in an activity they are passionate about, for example, soccer, it will help them to train themselves to focus and build stamina since it is a high-endurance sport. You may be wondering how participating in a high-endurance activity can help improve academic performance. Strong evidence shows that there is a correlation between physical activity and fitness levels and increased cognitive performance and overall academic performance in youth.
Other research studies also reveal that participating in extracurricular activities improves academic performance due to increased positivity towards academics and higher academic ambition.
Exploring is one of the ways your child can know what they enjoy doing and are passionate about. By participating in different activities, your child can discover a range of interests and discover passions they never knew they had. By exploring interests, your child can broaden their worldview as they engage with other learners with similar or different interests.
Think of your child joining a culture club: they will begin to look at the world through the lens of different cultures and establish an appreciation and sensitivity for human differences.
Diversifying your child’s weekly routine helps negate demotivation and laziness to get schoolwork done. Although attending school serves the primary function of providing your child with an education, developing their theoretical knowledge and practical skills to navigate the world around them, allowing your child to engage in other activities that aren't directly related to their education can help increase their productivity.
Your child will discover the value of time management as they learn to balance their academic obligations, schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and everything else (leisure, sleep). Allowing your child to discover things that may interest them beyond academics gives them a deserved break and teaches them how to manage their time effectively while pursuing a well-rounded schedule. The benefit of your child engaging in a school-led extracurricular activity, such as their school's under 18 Basketball team, is that they are structured and have a time stamp, allowing your child to commit for a certain amount of time and finish their schoolwork at home afterwards.
You may be worried about your child feeling tired and worn out after participating in a physical extracurricular activity like sports. Don’t be discouraged as studies reveal that regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins which are natural brain chemicals that can enhance your child’s sense of well-being. When you feel good, you are more likely to be productive.
In high school, your child will be developing a lot of skills that they will find helpful when they make the big transition to university or college, coupling your child’s formal education and extracurricular activities will help equip your child with “real-world” skills.
Here are a few skills your child can develop:
The nature of activities your child explores determines to a large extent the nature of skills they will develop. That is why it is crucial for you and your child to have a conversation about what extracurricular activities will positively affect their present and future lives. Keeping this in mind, it is also worthwhile to have fun along the way so that your child does not develop a dislike for school-related activities.
Making friends or connecting with people isn’t second to nature for everyone. One of the easiest ways to make friends and build connections with like-minded people is through extracurricular activities! Each extracurricular activity your child engages in allows them to expand their social network.
It is easier to have fun and make the most out of an activity when you make friends, this can also play a motivating function in getting more involved. For example, if your child makes friends through an after-school program, they might decide to start a smaller club and gain more meaningful friendships.
What to take away here is that extracurricular activities can help remove your child from their isolation bubble and meet new people, including classmates, teachers, coaches and community leaders, allowing them to build and maintain meaningful relationships. You never know who your child may come across which can lead to valuable connections and opportunities in the future.
You may be wondering how extracurricular activities can help build your child’s resume. Well, without previous working experience, even in the form of an internship, may make it challenging for hiring managers to assess your child’s suitability for a position. However, participating in extracurricular activities is one way hiring managers can assess your child’s ability and work ethic.
Trying to imagine how playing sports can impress a hiring manager may be tricky, but engaging in sports builds skills that may be transferable to the professional working space. For example, if your child attends a multi-ethnic and multicultural school, they could refer to their ability to work effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. Why? Because being able to work with a diversity of people and successfully reach a common goal is a core function of a successful business. Your child captaining the high school team is an added advantage as this shows leadership ability.
If your child is more into debating and public speaking, their engagement in such an extracurricular activity will show potential employers that they can argue their points professionally and confidently - a valuable skill in the workplace!
Although university or college applications differ in requirements, most applications to institutions of higher learning include prompt inquiring about your child's involvement in their school community, which could involve community service, sports, after-school tutorials, and so on.
So the burning question is: why do universities or colleges look at extracurricular activities? Universities want to see what your child did during their high school career to pursue things they were passionate about, found meaningful, that helped increase their knowledge and understanding of their academics, and their leadership or collaborative abilities. The admissions department does not only look at your grades as part of your eligibility to study at their institution but also at how they might add depth and breadth to their student body. Therefore, it is not so much what extracurricular activity they got involved in during high school but that they immersed themselves in their schooling environment and made meaningful contributions and developed knowledge and skills to be successful at the university level.
This school year, give your child the opportunity to explore extracurricular activities.