The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities for Students
There are many high schools out there today that provide a plethora of
extracurricular activities. Some occur before school, some after school, and a
few may even take place on the weekends. While some parents are a bit
dubious about their children participating in extracurricular activities, these
activities actually bring with them many benefits. Allowing your child to get
involved in extracurricular activities at school is a wise choice, and it can be
very important in helping them to develop many working skills, people skills,
and more. Of course, while a few activities is a great idea, there is a point
where you need to draw a line. Here is a closer look at some of the benefits of
extracurricular activities for your child, and how you can know when these
activities become too much.
The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
If you aren't sure whether or not you should let your high school student get
involved in extracurricular activities, you definitely need to consider all the
benefits that come along with these activities. Here is a look at just a few
benefits your teen will enjoy if you allow them to get involved with these
Benefit #1 – Learning Time Management and Prioritizing
– One great benefit of your teen being involved in extracurricular activities is
that they will learn about time management and prioritizing things in their life.
As adults we get very used to juggling a variety of different tasks and
commitments. Our teens need to learn how to do this as well, and getting
involved in these activities can give them some practice at it.
Benefit #2 – Getting Involved in Diverse Interests – Getting involved in
extracurricular activities also allows students to get involved in diverse
interests. It is important for your teen to be very diverse in their interests.
These activities allow them to explore various interests that they may have.
Benefit #3 – Learning About Long Term Commitments
– Teens learn about long term commitments when they are involved in
extracurricular activities as well, which is another excellent benefit. When the
join one of the activities or clubs, they commit themselves to that activity for a
period of time. If they don't hold up to their end of the deal, no doubt they'll
hear about it from their peers and perhaps even teachers. Learning to take on
commitments is important, and these activities can teach your child this
Benefit #4 – Making a Contribution – Extracurricular activities allow your child
to make a contribution in some way. It shows that they are getting away from
just thinking about themselves and contributing to something else. This is
important in their growth as a person.
Benefit #5 – Raises Self Esteem – Many times, being involved in extracurricular
activities helps to raise the self esteem of teens. There are many teens that
feel worthless or that there is nothing they are good at. Teens struggle with
self esteem, and these activities are a way that they can build self esteem.
Everyone wants to find something that they are really good at, and
extracurricular activities provide them with a way that they can get involved in
something and really shine, giving their self esteem a boost.
Benefit #6 – Building Solid Relationship Skills – Your teen will have the benefit
of building solid relationship skills as well when they get involved in
extracurricular activities. Teens need to get involved in social activities and
learn how to appropriate act in social situations and these activities give them
a chance outside of school to do this, while they are still being supervised by
Benefit #7 – Looks Great on College Applications
– Yet another benefit of allowing your teen to get involved in extracurricular
activities is that it looks great on college applications. Most colleges not only
look at grades, but they take a look at extracurricular activities that students
are involved in while they are in high school. They want to see that students
are getting out there and doing more than just book work. The activities that
teens are involved in reveal a lot about them, and definitely will say something
to the college admissions committees.
How Much is Too Much?
Of course, while there are definitely many excellent benefits to extracurricular
activities for your teens, you need to consider how much is too much. Getting
involved in a few different activities can be a great choice, and is definitely
beneficial, but too many activities can end up having negative effects. Teens
involved in too many activities often end up having academic problems, or
they may not get the rest and recreation that they need. It's important that
you talk to your teen and set some limits to extracurricular activities. Have
them pick out a couple of their favorites and make sure they can handle them.
For freshmen, you may even want to limit the activities to one, until you see
how they handle the activity and their school work. Then they can work up to
balancing more activities if they perform well. Some kids feel like they have to
be involved in many activities to be a success, and this is not beneficial to
them. It's important that kids don't try to "do it all," but that they have a
passion and commitment to a few activities, which definitely builds character.
If your kids want to get involved in extracurricular activities, let them. There
are definitely excellent benefits that they'll enjoy. While it can be tough to play
taxi driver to all these activities, keep in mind that you are doing it for their
well being and future success. Just make sure you put your foot down if they
try to take these activities too far.
Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
So what's in it for you? You get to explore your physical, creative, social,
political, and career interests with like-minded people. You'll find friends:
Trying something different may bring you in contact with people you didn't
know who share your interests and curiosity.
You can get involved with groups as a way to get support from other students
with your background, such as Latino or Jewish clubs. A club or group also can
be a great way to meet people who are different from you. Lots of youth
programs bring people together with those who are different as a way to break
down the barriers between people. Mark, a senior who lives in Washington,
DC, discovered this when he volunteered for a group that uses baseball as a
way to bring special-education kids and kids with disabilities together with
Participating in extracurricular activities helps you in other ways, too: It looks
good on college and job applications and shows admissions officers and
employers you're well-rounded and responsible. Specific activities help with
specific goals — if you want to teach language or get a bilingual job, being the
president of the Spanish club shows the depth of your commitment.
The most basic reason for joining a club or team is that it gives you something
better to do than staring at the wall, wandering the hall, or napping all
afternoon. People who are involved and engaged are less likely to become
addicted to bad habits, like smoking or drinking.
Finding the Right Activity for You
Review the activities your school offers and listen to other students'
experiences to find an activity that meets your needs. Think about your
interests, abilities, and time — is your sister tired of playing chess with you? Do
you wish you had more computer time? Are you tired of shooting hoops
alone? Are you looking to meet friends or get support? Do you need to
increase the appeal of your college application? Don't limit yourself to the
familiar — try something new.
Think about different roles within groups that you might want to try —
president, captain, participant, leader, support person. Each role is important.
Being president teaches you leadership and management skills, but involves
more responsibility; being a member gives you structure and is less stressful.
You can also lend your skills in areas that are needed, such as using your
financial skills to be
How to Get Involved
At the beginning of the school year, teachers and principals often have a list of
activities to join or make announcements — for example, your history teacher
may be the debating team advisor. Look on school bulletin boards and in the
school newspaper. Ask friends what they like. Join right away or wait to see
how your schedule will be and join later.
Ask questions of the activity advisor before you join. Some things to ask
Age. You may have to be a certain age or in a certain grade to join an
Fees. Do you have to pay to join? How much? Are there fees for outings,
uniforms, costumes, or other expenses? You may be required to help raise
Physical. If you're joining a team, you may need to take a physical. Talking
with your family doctor may help you decide whether a team is a good
choice for you.
Grades. Many groups require a minimum GPA to join.
Time. If you're involved in competitive sports, you need to have the time to
practice and compete. There's also the time it takes to get ready
emotionally for a game, and the time you spend getting pizza with the team
after games. Team members are often responsible for setting up for a game
or helping in other ways. Clubs can meet as infrequently as once every other
week, but some teams have practice every day after school and meets on
Each school is unique with its own array of offerings, but if you don't find what
you want, try a community center or volunteer for a local nonprofit
organization or business. Also consider organizations like Youth in Action, a
group for teens who want to participate in service projects.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
It's easy to join one too many exciting activities. Ask as many questions as
possible before you join. Sit down with your school schedule, work schedule,
and other activities and try to map out what's realistic. Are you taking a class
this semester that requires extra studying time? Do you need to focus on
grades? Does your bus only come once an hour by the time practice is over
instead of every 15 minutes? Will you have time to eat, sleep, and relax?
Everyone needs downtime. If an activity adds lots of stress to your life, it's not
Once you've joined an activity, if you feel stressed out, reconsider. It's
important to keep a balance between schoolwork, extracurricular activities, a
job, social life, and your health. If you join a club and need to quit for any
reason, talk with the advisor or coach. Be direct and polite and explain your
situation and feelings. Sometimes it's just not the right match for you or it's too
time-consuming. Perhaps you can participate in a less time-consuming way or
rejoin later. You won't be helping yourself or the group if you frantically do
homework during a competition or fall asleep during practice. Saying "no" can
be the most mature and responsible thing to do.
Extracurricular activities can help your child grow in and out of the classroom,
but the key is keeping it fun.
From playing soccer, taking music lessons or belonging to a club,
extracurricular activities outside the classroom can have a positive impact on
“Children’s participation in organized extracurricular activities has been
associated with positive short- and long-terms outcomes,” says Anne
Guèvremont, the lead author on a Statistics Canada study on organized
extracurricular activities. The paper drew upon US data reports that
involvement in extracurricular activities has a positive impact on academic
achievement and pro-social behaviours. Extracurricular activities also help
reduce school drop-out rates as well as emotional and behaviour disorders.
“One of the great benefits of extracurricular activities is creating new
opportunities to learn to think about themselves and to learn what they like
and don’t like,” says Tracey Starrett, a writer and course director at York
University in human resources and communication.
Finding the right extracurricular activity is a learning experience for the entire
family. “When you’re child is 2, parents are probably making the choices for
them. Usually, it’s something that interests the parent,” says Starrett, the
mother of a son, 9, and a daughter, 12. “Obviously, as children get older, they’ll
start expressing their interests. At 4 or 5 they’re going to let you know whether
you chose the activity for them and whether they like it or not.”
She advises that parents try a wide variety of activities, because your kids will
eventually gravitate towards the things they like. Trying different activities will
also help children discover something they enjoy – even if it’s an activity that
may not have interested you initially.
Sport touches many aspects of Canadians’ lives—their health and well-being,
their social networks and their sense of social connectedness. And in Canada,
there are plenty of sports to choose from. One thing parents may want to
consider, however, is the pros and cons of competitive and non-competitive
What is key is to value the process over the result when playing a sport. Being
a good sportsperson develops character.
“When parents remember why they are enrolling their child into a sport, it
helps them to keep the focus on the development of the character rather than
just ‘winning’. It also is important to keep the sport ‘fun’,” says Jan Kievlen,
Positive Climates for Learning Specialist at the York Region District School
Board. “Children engage more deeply when they have intrinsic motivation to
be present and to participate to the best of their ability.”
Non-Sports (Art and Music)
Non-sports activities, such as art or music, are effective in promoting outsidethe-box thinking. These lessons can open children up to have different creative
experiences – whether it’s learning about different kinds of art or new ways of
thinking. “It’s about broadening their horizons and seeing that lots of different
things count as art – not just a painting hanging up in a gallery,” says Starrett.
Art classes can help your child learn math, shapes and geometry. Take
cartooning, for example. “One of the first things they show you is that
cartooning starts with a circle, an oval, and a square. You can draw anything if
you start with those shapes,” says Starrett.
Music lessons, of course foster a love of music while teaching some music
theory, but they also help children learn how to deal with stress and
nervousness. For example, music recitals help build confidence. “Kids may feel
like they’re the only ones who get nervous, but even professional performers
and athletes get nervous. So it’s important to guide them through these
experiences,” says Starrett. “It’s not as much about getting over the nerves as
it is about experiencing the nerves and learning how to cope.”
Clubs and Community Groups
Starrett has been a Girl Guide leader, and was introduced to it when her
daughter joined. She says joining clubs like Cubs, Scouts and Guides are great
options for young families. For the most part, she says scouting and guiding
touch upon building life skills, leadership and teamwork. There are no tryouts,
and it’s mostly non-competitive, inclusive to all children, and focuses on
When are you over-scheduling your child?
Taking part in extracurricular activities can make your household a hectic
place. Starrett says parents should take care not to over-schedule children with
too many activities.
“We wouldn’t want to go to work all day and they learning piano or go out
three nights a week to do something else. As parents, we’d be feeling pretty
overloaded,” she says. “Don’t focus too much on achieving every single
milestone. It’s not the end of the world if they have to miss a semester of swim
To find balance, parents should consider their child’s development, personality
and abilities and whether or not they’re having fun.
Focus on the fun
There are many short- and long-term benefits to taking part in extra-curricular
activities. In the end, the key is fun. Try to focus on the process as opposed to
the result, and think about the skills you can help teach your child. “Sure, time
management is important, but kids don’t take activities to learn time
management or decision making skills,” says Starrett. These are all byproducts
from participation. Taking part in a sport, music class, or a club can enrich your
child’s life. “Not only does it open up new experiences for the child,” says
Starrett. “It may open up new experiences for the parents and maybe the
family as a whole.