Both academically and physically, there are upsides to playing the field with after-school activities
Published: August 27, 2021
By: Cheryl Maguire
“I’m bored,” my 11-year-old daughter grumbled as she collapsed onto the couch. It was a rare unscheduled moment in her life. I cringed as I recalled what can occur when she has a spontaneous second. At the age of 3, I assumed she was quietly playing with her toys only to discover the entire wall was covered with a new crayon-drawn mural. We are both happier now that she is enrolled in art classes.
She prefers being busy, which is why she participated in six different extracurricular activities this past spring. Her interests ranged from sign language class to swim team. Besides avoiding boredom (and messes) there are many benefits to having scheduled activities for your child. Research by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) states that students who participated in after-school activities had better attendance, higher levels of achievement, and aspirations to higher levels of education.
1. Better Academic Performance
Even though my daughter was in six different clubs or sports, she received all A’s in her academic classes. By participating in extracurricular activities, a child can learn new skills, which can be applied to the school setting.
For example, my daughter was in the garden club and she used the information she learned about plants in her science class. Sports such as basketball, baseball and football use statistics, addition/subtraction, probability, and geometry, which can be applied to math class.
Research studies found students who participate in extracurricular activities perform better in school. A study done by the College Board found high school extracurricular participation is correlated with higher SAT scores, SAT math by 45 points and SAT verbal scores by 53 points.
2. More Adaptable
If a child is participating in more than one activity, they will also experience more than one coach or teacher who will have different rules and expectations. They will have the opportunity to meet kids with a range of personalities and interests. These interactions will teach a child how to be adaptable to multiple people and situations.
3. Better Social Skills
Children will gain social skills both from the person in charge of the activity or sport and by interacting with their peers. They also have the opportunity to learn about teamwork by either playing a sport together or doing a group class, such as a musical for drama. During my daughter’s book club, at the end of their discussion of the book, they have social time. One meeting, she didn’t read the book, but she still wanted to go to the club since she loved the social interaction with her peers.
4. Less Screen Time
Common Sense Media research states on average, teens spend over nine hours per day playing video games or watching TV. If children are participating in after-school activities, they will have less opportunity to either watch TV or play video games, and they will hopefully
learn new skills.
5. Decreased Risk of Obesity
According to the CDC, obesity has affected about 12.7 million children and adolescents during the past decade. If a child participates in a sport, they will be more active, which leads to better health benefits from being physically fit. Even if a child did a club or an after-school activity, they will be more active than if they watched TV or played video games.
How to Balance Your Child’s Schedule. Sometimes, even for my daughter, you can have too many activities. I’m always aware of her energy level. If she needs to skip an activity once in a while, I let her. Or when I noticed she wasn’t enthusiastic about going to gymnastics anymore, we both decided it would be best not to sign up for the next session. Most importantly, you want to make sure your child is happy and not bored.