Settling in and reaching up
The case for extracurricular activities
by Judianne Jayme
At this point, children are settling into their school routines and are possibly also getting involved in extracurricular clubs and teams. I get a lot of parents concerned about the same thing: “Wouldn’t joining all these extracurricular activities affect their performance in school?”
I’m here to make a case for joining extracurricular activities. Here are my top three reasons why I think it’s worth it to join.
1. Pursuing things they’re passionate about. Let’s be honest with ourselves. As adults, our lives don’t revolve around our work. Why do we expect kids to do that? Give them time to pursue what interests them, otherwise we’re setting them up for a trap of settling for “whatever works” for them in their careers. Give them a chance to be passionate about something and to pursue that. If we instil this while they’re kids, it becomes a natural curiosity that will give them direction later on.
2. Teamwork and cooperation. Classrooms can sometimes feel isolated. Most kids, even in high school, will see only the same kids in their classes. Joining extracurricular activities at school or even in their community gives them an opportunity to work cooperatively with other kids who they otherwise may not have met before. It also teaches them that, in reality, you’re going to have to work with people that you don’t know well anyway. They’ll also learn the value of collaboration rather than trying to complete tasks, projects or goals alone.
3. Self-motivation and self-regulation. Back to the original concern: what if they get distracted? As I said in the first point, they’re pursuing something they’re genuinely interested in. If they truly want to continue that activity, and you lay down the ground rules that they have to still keep up their standards in their classes, they will motivate themselves to monitor their own work and progress.
Parent Tip: try new things!
“But my child is lazy and doesn’t want to do anything!”
They aren’t lazy. They just haven’t found something they’re interested in. Try different things! Maybe they want to do art, or dance, or play an instrument. Maybe they want to build things or do science experiments all day. Maybe they want to play sports from sun up to sun down! Whatever it is, try different activities with them, make it a fun experience, and see what they want to do.
They key here is what they want to do – not what you think they want to do. My colleague’s child was one of those “I don’t want to do anything” kids – until he found sports and drama. Suddenly this kids’ grades boosted up because he knew that if he wanted to stay on the team and stay in the productions he’s in, he has to make sure his academics didn’t slide. Sports wasn’t a surprise to her – but drama & theatre? They attended one open house workshop for kids, and her son was hooked – all because they weren’t scared to try new things.
Start slowly. Join one club, team, or activity so it’s easier to manage with schoolwork. If they get into the swing of things, they can take on one more, then one after that, etc. Some of my top-performing students are the kids who are also involved in two or three yearlong clubs or activities, and they are also joining temporary or seasonal opportunities.
So get out there, settle in, and reach up to new opportunities! Help your children find what they’re passionate about – and put in that time pursuing genuine interests.
Have fun getting involved, everyone!
Judianne is an educator teaching fourth grade in the Winnipeg School Division and is also a mentor for early service teachers. She works with youth through her youth empowerment project Dalagita and is beginning to provide cultural educational programming through her role in Mabuhay TV.