It has been argued that extracurricular activities are not very important in a schoolchild’s life. I, however, differ with that. A student’s social life is as important as their academic life, for their development.
There is so much pressure on students, especially in secondary schools, to perform well in their exams and attain high grades. This, by all means, is not wrong – wanting students to perform exemplarily well in their exams is normal. The problem comes in when students have no life outside their classrooms; when all they do and think about is their books. They become zombies whose world revolves around books, with no room for their development as human beings.
Many parents, guardians, and students themselves do not understand the importance of extracurricular activities. Teachers in many schools have had to convince some parents and guardians to permit their children to participate in extracurricular activities. This is because the parents feel that those afterschool activities distract them from their studies, or caused them to get home late. Some students also feel that they do not need the activities, all they need is to concentrate on their books.
This notion couldn’t be any more untrue. Co-curricular activities are just as important as academics. They both complement each other to develop a well-rounded student with more social skills than one who only concentrates on their books. Education should go beyond the four classroom walls; it should be more than just books.
There are so many activities that a student can choose from, including sports such as athletics, football, and rugby, scouts, debate, chess or even music. Some students who are interested in more than one activity end up participating in them, as long as they have enough time left for their studies.
Benefits of extracurricular activities
· Improved academic performance
Studies have shown that students who participate in co-curricular activities have a marked improvement in the grades. This can be attributed to skills they learn such as better time management to accommodate their hobbies and class activities, better organizational skills and a boost in their self-esteem. Skills learnt in clubs such as debate can be applied in the classroom too, as the students learn how to express themselves better.
· Better time management skills
A student has to learn how to balance their academic life with their hobbies. They need to know how to incorporate their club and sports activities into their school life and allocate enough time for each. They learn how to plan out their day to include study time and co-curricular activities time, and will know how to make use of any free time they may have. Such a student is also less likely to procrastinate.
· Learn new and useful skills
Students learn new skills that are useful in their school life and day-to-day activities. Students learn skills such as teamwork, better social skills, and critical thinking. According to studies, students who participate in co-curricular activities were found to have better leadership skills and learnt how to relate better with their peers than those who didn’t.
· Sense of commitment
Students who participate in co-curricular activities have a sense of commitment to whatever they are involved in. This is because as they take part in whatever sports or club activity they are a member of, they have to commit to it and give their all, and this commitment extends to all other areas of their lives.
· Sense of responsibility
A student who is given a task such as leading a scouts group, or First Aid, will with time be very efficient in that task. This will foster a sense of accountability and responsibility in them.
· New friends
Students should be encouraged to pursue extracurricular activities as they meet and spend time with new people, hence forming new friendships. This is important as they interact with those of different or similar interests, and learn a thing or two from them. They also get a different point of view on things as the new friends they make may see life in general from a different point of view.
· Introduction to new activities
Students who engage in extracurricular activities are exposed to a wide range of new activities such as sports, painting, drama, scouts and singing. Though these activities may be hobbies, some students take them up and pursue them in their adult lives, turning their hobby into their career.
· More opportunities
For secondary school students, engaging in extracurricular activities boosts their chances of gaining admission into universities. Most universities nowadays check what the student offers apart from their academics, and that is where co-curricular activities come in. Some students have gotten scholarships into prestigious universities due to sports such as athletics and football.
The aim of education should be to develop an all-rounded student in all aspects. This includes the student’s intellectual, spiritual, social, physical and moral capabilities. There is need to strike a balance in all these aspects, so as to benefit the child.