There is so much pressure on schools these days and the focus on exam performance, league tables and Ofsted is unrelenting. However, schools should always remember that there is much more to education than exam grades. Here are some of the many benefits for having a wide and varied extra-curricular programme in schools.

Improved Academic Performance

There is a solid argument to say that extra-curricular activities are valuable just because they offer something different from traditional lessons. They give young people an opportunity to let off steam, realise that you don’t have to be in a classroom to learn, and to just have some fun.

What’s more, plenty of studies suggest that students who participate in extra-curricular activities actually do better academically as well. Improved brain function, concentration and time management are just three things that come from taking part in extra-curricular activities. These are aspects that obviously help studying too – and positive attitudes, higher aspirations and higher grades all tend to be achieved by those that participate in them.

Exploration and broader perspectives

Exploring a range of interests can only be a good thing. Taking part in different activities can unlock skills, talents and passions that young people never realised they had. Depending on the activity, a person’s world view can be broadened too.

Self-esteem

Low self-esteem is often a root cause of – and an inextricable link to – poor exam performance. But the more success you achieve through extra-curricular activities, the more your self-esteem is boosted. Even if the success is experienced in a very different sphere, such as in sports rather than a Maths classroom; it still shows an individual that they can succeed. From a self-esteem angle, that can be very powerful.

Being social

Although, social media has many plus points; for young people it undoubtedly adds to the pressure they are under. It can be damaging and even dangerous. There’s a further irony too, as ‘social’ media often means that many interactions with others are done via a smartphone screen and the tap of fingers, rather than with face-to-face contact.

Extra-curricular is a ready-made opportunity to expand your social network – without the need for social media!

A break from studying

The school-homework-sleep routine is a treadmill that many students find themselves on. Long term, it can’t be good for anybody health-wise (physically or mentally). Everybody needs a break and taking part in extra-curricular activities is a great way to get one – in a productive and useful way.

Life skills and the future

Along with the likes of the aforementioned time management or concentration, extra-curricular activities can be an excellent way of developing valuable life and ‘real world’ skills. From problem solving to goal setting and leadership, the opportunities are vast.

Not only are these the type of skills that set young people up for life, taking part in extra-curricular activities can do that too. A young person should never do something just to put it on a CV, college or job application. However, doing so does look good – it shows people a little bit more of the personality and character of an applicant. This is often more telling than a list of exam grades.

Extra-curricular activities take up precious time – time that schools and teachers, or parents and pupils sometimes believe is time they haven’t got, or time that would be better spent studying or working. When all is said and done, this a very short-sighted and misguided view. Extra-curricular activities have many, many benefits.

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