Extracurricular activities have become a very important part of a child’s educational process. Although they may not be an integral part of the school curriculum; they are important in developing and discovering a child’s skillset and passion.
Extracurricular activities are activities that fall outside of the normal school curriculum. They can range from sports to music lessons, to ballet, drama, dance. It is any regularly scheduled activity that your child participates in outside of regular school hours.
Extracurricular activities have evolved from activities such as ballet, karate, and dance to activities such as coding, robotics, and Mandarin. This is because the future is changing and traditional education is not enough. One of the only ways to prepare your child is to enrol your child for extracurricular activities that will help equip your child for the future.
Benefits of Extracurricular activities
When a child starts to develop a hobby or learn a sport early, that child becomes more willing to learn new techniques and more open-minded about skill acquisition. Extracurricular activities are widely believed to positively impact a child’s growth, not just academically.
According to one study, involvement in extracurricular activities directly correlates to improved academic, psychological, and behavioural function. Other benefits include learning time management, becoming more accountable, and raising self-esteem. Extracurricular activities also look good on college applications and a resume.
How to pick an Extracurricular activity for your Child
Most schools in Lagos offer extracurricular activities. Some of these include activities such as Computer coding, Robotics, Mandarin, French, Chess, Tennis, Music and much more.
Picking the right extracurricular activity for your child is very important. Do not try to live vicariously through your child by making him/her do an activity you are interested in. As this could lead to resentment. The most important factor in choosing, is that it is something your child really enjoys doing or could enjoy over time.
Ask for your child’s opinion first, as it is the child that will be carrying out the activity. If they have no idea, go through some options from the school or research on extracurricular activities in your neighbourhood. Select an activity based on the kinds of activities they already show interest in.
You could ask your child’s school to offer some extracurricular activities that you think your child or other children might be interested in.
Benefits of Extracurricular activities
1. They Help In Fostering a Growth Mindset
When a child starts to develop a hobby or learn a sport early, that child becomes more willing to learn new techniques. They also develop a growth mindset and more open-minded about learning various skills. Extracurricular activities are widely believed to positively impact a child’s growth, not just academically.
2. Experience for the future
Extracurricular activities can equip your child with the much-needed skills required to succeed after they graduate. These include — Leadership skills, teamwork, time management, communications skills, interviewing skills, office environment flexibility etc. It also helps with building a solid resume as it shows that you are successful both inside and outside the classroom. This can also set you apart from a stack of resumes that primarily list academic achievements only.
4. Activities help the brain grow and develop
The child’s growing brain is capable of making millions of connections per second. But what connections are made and how many connections are made depends on the experience the brain receives. When your child participates in various activities she/he makes more positive brain connections much earlier in life.
Below Are Some Tips for Parents to Consider when choosing an extracurricular activity for their children
1. How well does the activity support the values I consider to be most important for my child?
Think about activities that teach the importance of persistence and the value of teamwork.
2. How does the activity correspond with my child’s natural talents, abilities, strengths, and interests?
Try to avoid a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Look at your child as an individual, and determine what his/her natural strengths and interests are. Thereafter, based on this you can then find extra-curricular activities that support these.
3. Be on the lookout for hidden talent.
Sometimes children might be reluctant to try new things for fear of failure. Children with learning differences may be more hesitant because they already struggle. This is why it’s a good idea to encourage your child to try a new activity he’s interested in. You can agree that after he tries an activity, he can decide whether to stick with it or not.
The payoff could be discovering new talent. For example, your child might be focused on playing basketball but find out he has a real knack for painting. That would be a great discovery and a big confidence boost.
4. What is the long-term benefit of the activity for my child?
Is this activity beneficial to my child academic studies? Look for activities that enhance learning. For example, the benefits associated with Computer Programming help develop problem-solving skills. In this age of technology, it’s difficult to find a job that doesn’t require technology skills. Companies such as Bricks4Kidz offer coding classes.
Learning to code will increase your child’s odds of securing a lucrative STEM career, especially in a world where computing jobs are growing at over twice the national average.
5. Focus on your child’s wellbeing.
Children must have enough time to sleep, eat and rest. If your child is unnecessarily stressed out from additional activities you should rethink it. Tears and tantrums are never worth it. The adverse effects of overscheduling a child far outweigh the benefits any of these activities provide.
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When should your Child start an Extracurricular activity?
Before you enrol your child, make sure that they have fully adjusted to their regular routine. In general, children can begin extracurricular activities when they are able to handle their self-care tasks on their own.
Here are some signs your child has adjusted well to school and could be ready for more stimulation than an extracurricular activity can provide.
- They will be excited to go to school
- Are making friends at school
- Showing normal academic progress
- Are even-tempered for most of the day
According to Yetty Williams, Parenting coach it is best to expose your child to a lot of extracurricular activities. This way they find new interests and stay with the activities they do enjoy.
Finally, it is important to note that; Extracurricular activities are not about winning prizes. The purpose of these activities is to allow the child to discover him or herself while discovering the world. Balance and fun are the keywords to be kept in mind when choosing and pursuing an extracurricular activity.