One thing that we are taught as teachers is that extra-curricular activities are incredibly beneficial for pupils of all ages, but sometimes it can be a difficult task to actually get pupils interested in activities. The real key to it all is to understand that there are no one size fits all extra-curricular activities, and all of our pupils have different needs. We cannot expect them all to want to do the same thing, and we have to be understanding of that. There would be activities that people who we know would happily do that we wouldn’t dream of doing.
One of the most important things for actual schools and governing bodies to understand is that by offering a variety of extra-curricular activities, they are also offering choice. Choice is vital, as by giving students a choice in the first place you allow them to make their own decision, and that alone is enough to capture their interest. Schools should offer a healthy balance of different types of extra-curricular activities. These should range from physical activities, to creative activities, and academic activities.
How will students benefit from these activities?
Taking part in extra-curricular activities is incredibly beneficial for students, and by allowing them to make their own choice you allow them to get the most out of that activity. An activity that a student does not enjoy will rarely be beneficial, as they simply will not enjoy taking part. Some of the benefits that extra-curricular activities offer students include:
- Confidence building: Unfortunately, we live in a time period where students are constantly having their confidence knocked for a variety of reasons. They could be struggling with other students, or there could be situations at home that we as teachers are unaware of. These confidence knocks can result in extremely low self-esteem. We can use extra-curricular activities to bring these pupils out of their shells, and give them the praise that they need to re-build their confidence.
- Time management: Extra-curricular activities should always aim to be held at the same time every week, so that pupils get used to a particular pattern. This way they learn to handle their own weekly activities around the extra-curricular activity. They also learn about the advantages and disadvantages associated with a long-term commitment, as most students are actually committed to their activity. They may not always hold up their own end of this bargain, but there will rarely be repercussions if they don’t. As adults we have to learn to juggle a variety of tasks based on their priority, and that can be learnt by students.
- University and work applications: Both universities and potential employers will ask young people about their extra-curricular activities, as that can tell them a lot about the young person. For example, if a young person takes part in orienteering then an employer would know that the young person has been exposed to skill sets that include teamwork and leadership. Certain extra-curricular activities do look better than others when applying for specific university courses, so you should always talk to your pupil if they have an end goal in mind.
- Contribution: A lot of students will only take part in things that are beneficial for themselves, and extra-curricular activities can break that vicious cycle. Students can see how their own contribution directly affects other people, especially if they are working as part of a team. They learn to contribute to things that may not be beneficial to them, but to things that are beneficial on a much broader scale.
So, there are a lot of reasons why extra-curricular activities in schools are important, and we have barely touched the top of the iceberg. By giving your students the opportunity to do what they enjoy, you will be directly enriching their young lives, as well as their futures. They may even learn to form relationships with people who are outside of their initial friendship group, and that alone can teach them the valuable social skills that they will need to learn in order to cope with working life.