There is no definitive list of extracurricular activities that every child should participate in. Indeed, even though it might be tempting and seem sensible to say that children should take up a range of activities – say, the arts and sports – that isn’t necessarily the best thing to do either.

There are no hard and fast rules. The only thing that really matters is that every student participates in an extracurricular activity of some sort.

Why extracurricular activities are so beneficial?

The truth is that there really isn’t a case against extracurricular activities. Obviously, the quality of coaching, training and clubs that is on offer outside school can be variable – although this is relatively easy to check through reviews, referrals and recommendations. Similarly, a genuine barrier might be the cost – but these aren’t reasons not to encourage children to get involved. After-school activities and clubs tend not to have a cost attached anyway, so there are always ways of ensuring that children don’t miss out.

On one level, the reason why extracurricular activities are so beneficial is very simple. We hear the phrase ‘there’s more to life than work’ a lot. Well, children need to understand that there is more to life than school, studying and school work too!

Students need to live a little. Generally, with extracurricular activities, you will be still be learning something – it’s just that you don’t need to be behind a desk looking at a teacher in front of a whiteboard to learn – and you will definitely acquire and develop new skills.

What can your children learn from extra-curricular activities?

In a busy classroom it can be hard for a child to make themselves heard and find their own voice. This is especially true if students don’t have a particular interest in any subject. Extra-curricular activities often give children the opportunity to express themselves in ways they never thought possible in a conventional classroom environment. This can be a real boost for self-esteem.

When we think of extracurricular activities, we immediately think of sports clubs and team sports. These are obviously superb for developing team-working skills. However, these are not the only ways students can develop such skills. The likes of drama clubs boost team-working skills – and here the focus is also on boosting creativity.

Extracurricular activities take many forms too. At one end of the scale, there are very specific skills that can be developed – such as the grade examination system for musical instruments, or the intense coaching and training that can develop a talent in a sport into elite level performance.

At the other end of the scale are the ‘softer skills’ that can be developed, such as teamwork, project and time management, and general social skills. Academic and vocational qualifications will always have a very important place in the workplace. It is these qualifications that essentially ‘open doors’ for youngsters. However, ultimately in the workplace it will be soft skills that become as (if not more) important day-to-day in a career. Any opportunity for students to develop soft skills through extracurricular activities should be encouraged.

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