Extracurricular activities - do you have a love/hate relationship with them too? They’re the quintessential mixed blessing - offering a huge range of benefits to children while condemning parents to a decade of taxi driving, spectating, supporting and schedule-coordinating.
It’s often a big time and cost commitment as a parent, but research shows that involving your child in an activity outside of the classroom has huge benefits in the long term. Schools Guide Australia cites some of the benefits:
- It offers a productive break from study
- Kids build skills outside the classroom
- New interests are developed
- A child’s social network is broadened
Ahhh, that’s why I persevere, despite my suspicions that it’s slowly driving me mad!
If we’re funneling a child’s energy into a productive activity rather than plonking them in front of a device or television, we give them the opportunity to open their minds to different views and opinions.
I doubt many could argue that society today isn’t fast-paced and focused on immediate gratification. Extracurricular sports, music and the arts are grounding mediums that help kids learn that participation matters. And for those more competitive souls, they learn that results require work and dedication. Children are empowered as they realise they matter to their team and their coach or instructor In many cases, this is the only time a child will do something separate from their family, their classmates and even that distance from you as a parent is powerful and enabling. If their extracurricular activity is their own choice, the child takes ownership of the activity. And sometimes, unlike compulsory schooling, the fact that it is a choice can offer a child far more opportunities to learn than school ever will.
And what a choice kids have these days!
Looking back, my childhood options of extracurricular activities (either sport or music) feels like ‘meat and three veg’ in comparison to the smorgasbord available to children these days! The selection is fantastic, but can make for hard choices.
As I discussed in a previous post, in our family we allow our children to try as many things as our schedule and budget will allow but there will come a time when they need to select one or two activities (most likely on entering high school. Whatever they choose to do, they must be consistent and persistent so they learn resilience and commitment to themselves and their team. That is, turn up to every training session or rehearsal, play every game and take part in all competitions or performance for the season.
It’s a busy household, but my mantra has always been: ‘I would prefer to be busy with their activities now than picking up the pieces of a delinquent teenager later’. Of course, there are no guarantees but I’d rather do something than nothing.
This week’s download is a quick discussion prompt sheet … drop me an email and I'll send it to you by tomorrow!
I’m looking forward to further discussing this topic in the coming weeks. Hayley has written a fantastic piece around teaching children to budget for these sorts of things themselves. It will be published on the weekend. We would both love you to join the discussion! Meet with us in ‘The Village’ on Facebook here!
What sort of activities do you children do?
How do you manage the budget and time/energy demands?
Do you feel as though the activities provide extra education for your children?