11 Reasons How Extracurriculars Can Help Kids Develop Life Skills

Academics are certainly the central element of students’ experiences during their school years, but they shouldn’t be the sole focus. Extracurricular activities, both sponsored through school and those that aren’t connected to school, are also essential to developing well-rounded students who have interests and passions that expand their knowledge and skills. In fact, extracurriculars benefit kids while they are young, and help them develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

What Are Extracurriculars

When many of us hear the term “extracurricular”, we may think only of sports, or maybe band or a drama club, but extracurricular activities for kids include a much broader range of activities that fall outside formal academics, and can be affiliated with school or happen independently of a child’s school. Typical categories of extracurriculars certainly include sports, but also clubs, scouting groups, book clubs, volunteering and community service, hobbies, part-time jobs, and educational activities.

Why Engage Kids in Extracurricular Activities

Any activity where a child can learn, grow, or have fun (preferably all three together!) can enhance physical, mental, social, and emotional health, and can benefit children now, with lasting positive impacts. Here are just a few great reasons to encourage children to become involved in a variety of extracurricular activities and find the best matches for their interests and goals.

1. Just for Fun

Whether they involve friends from school or a new batch of friends, extracurricular activities are an important way to make sure kids are having some fun, participating in activities they enjoy. Even though we often think of kids as having fun most of the time, encouraging them to find activities that are rewarding and encouraging them to take the time to enjoy them is good for their mental health and overall wellbeing.

2. Building Brain Power & New Ways of Thinking

Numerous studies have shown how learning to play an instrument or create watercolors and other creative or artistic activities encourage brains to form new neural pathways and ways of thinking. In fact, in one study, students who played musical instruments performed better on both the verbal and mathematical portions of the SAT test.  Any activities that stimulate the brain, such as learning a foreign language or another new skill also promote brain growth.

3. Expanding Knowledge and Skills

It goes without saying that any new knowledge and skills can have tremendous benefits for children, both in the short term, and throughout their lives. This can include a wide variety of things, from learning how to knit, throw a curveball, or play a part in a drama production to orienteering, cake decorating, or speaking Japanese. These new skills can be confidence builders and morale boosters. Participation in extracurricular activities can even reinforce much of what’s learned in traditional academics such as using math skills to adjust a knitting pattern or science knowledge to help with baking or outdoor activities.

4. Lasting Friendships

Most kids tend to make their closest friends with classmates at school, but valuable, lasting friendships also grow out of any extracurricular activities and the bonds of common interests. The more opportunities kids have to “find their tribe”, the richer their experiences can be.

5. Build Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

Even the most well-adjusted kids can find their pre-teen and teenage years a challenge to their confidence and sense of self-worth. Participating in extracurricular activities can give students a chance to stand out and shine in areas they have a passion and talent for. This can be especially satisfying and confidence-building when students are recognized for effort, skill, and talent in their chosen activities.

6. Building Teamwork

Working as part of a team and learning to be both a leader and a follower are critical skills for success and satisfaction in life. While these are certainly roles that students learn through school, extracurricular activities can be a place for kids to really thrive as part of a team. Sports teams may be the first type that come to mind, but teamwork is also essential for many volunteer and community projects, robotics teams, cheerleading, scouting, and numerous others.

7. Creating Good Habits

Extracurricular activities can help kids build good habits at a young age —habits that they are likely to maintain throughout their lives. These can include staying in shape with regular exercise, helping neighbors and the community, staying curious and being a lifelong learner, budgeting time, and many other routines.

7. Discovering Passions

Most schools, including LVDS, try to share a wide variety of information and experiences with students. The broader the range of opportunities, the more likely it is that each student will find an activity they connect with and love. Finding a passion early on can lead students to a fulfilling future career path, a satisfying hobby, or skills that can enrich and complement many other activities.

8. Improving Time Management Skills

While you might expect that adding extracurricular activities will make it harder for kids to make enough time for both activities and schoolwork, the reality tends to be the opposite. Those students who participate in extracurriculars usually become very good at managing their schedules and setting aside time dedicated to each activity, so that they’re able to get everything done.

9. Enriching College Applications

College admissions can be extremely competitive, so having experiences, hobbies, and activities that show students’ wider activities and interests can give them the edge in the application process, and a better chance of being admitted to the college of their choice.

10. Skills for Life

Many of the skills students learn while participating in extracurriculars are those which they will use in many aspects of their future lives. Drama and debate clubs can hone skills in public speaking, logic, and critical thinking, for example.

11. Helping the Community

Many of the advantages of extracurriculars discussed so far focus on the ways participation in them benefits students. At the same time, many extracurricular activities enable students to help friends, family, their neighbors, and their communities. These types of activities might include service clubs, and volunteer work.

At LVDS, our goal is not just to educate our students, but to prepare them to succeed, however they design their futures. Contact us today to schedule a tour, and learn more about how our school can be a great match for the personal and educational goals you have for your children.

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