Schools not only provide knowledge but also play a crucial role in shaping our personalities and future paths. While parents often prioritise the curriculum when choosing a school, equal emphasis should be given to extracurricular activities. These activities are essential in developing various skills necessary for success and help children navigate different situations, providing them with a broader understanding of the world. Therefore, a well-rounded selection of extracurricular activities is vital for a comprehensive education.
Develops Their Social Skills: Various subjects like maths, history, and science teach children key life lessons. Similarly, extracurricular activities play a crucial role. They help kids develop social skills by interacting with different people, building friendships, and expanding their social network. Ultimately, these activities teach children how to conduct themselves in a crowd, providing valuable lessons beyond the academic curriculum.
David Craggs, Vice Principal, GEMS World Academy, Abu Dhabi, adds, "Extracurricular activities can play a significant role in a child's overall development, complementing the academic curriculum and fostering skills that may not be as explicitly addressed in the classroom. Extracurricular activities often provide opportunities for skill development beyond academic subjects. Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, participating in sports, or engaging in art and drama, these activities can enhance a child’s creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills."
Great Space To Learn Time Management: Juggling studies and extracurricular activities imparts the art of time management to kids. It helps them efficiently use their free time and organise schedules effectively, emphasising the importance of focus and adherence to a timetable. It enhances productivity, and the acquired skill of time management becomes invaluable during examinations.
Helps With Self-esteem: Participating in extracurricular activities significantly boosts self-esteem. Success in activities of interest, like excelling in a science club or competitions, improves confidence and brings joy. Mastering new skills in a fun, relaxed, and sometimes competitive environment allows for success without the pressure of grades. As confidence grows, individuals become more open to taking risks, positively influencing various aspects of their lives.
Highlighting the importance of self-confidence, Sarah Harrod, Director of Sport and Co-curricular Activities, Brighton College Dubai, adds, "Research has shown the Co-Curricular opportunities allow pupils to develop their own self-confidence, promote academic achievements, enhance social interaction, nurture cultural values, improve time management and build essential life skills. As educators, one of our many role is to ensure we are preparing pupils for life beyond College, a successful co-curricular programme is one of the many ways we can support pupils outside of the curriculum."
David Craggs, GEMS World Academy says, "Extracurricular activities provide a platform for children to explore their interests and passions beyond the core academic subjects. This exploration can help them discover their talents, interests, and potential career paths. Success and improvement in extracurricular activities can also boost a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Whether it’s mastering a musical piece, scoring a goal in sports, or presenting in a drama club, these achievements contribute to a positive self-image."
Encourage Productive Breaks: Encouraging at least one extracurricular activity is crucial to prevent kids from spending excessive time in front of screens after school. These activities provide a fun and creative outlet, letting children to be productive. Engaging in something they love rejuvenates them and enhances focus during class. Moreover, it offers opportunities to explore passions and discover interests beyond academics, contributing to a more well-rounded and fulfilling experience.
Commenting on the importance of extracurricular activities, Sarah Harrod, Brighton College Dubai, adds, "The importance of a broad and balanced education is significant in a child’s mental, physical, and social development. Opportunities for pupils to engage in enrichment activities outside of the curriculum will only enhance their learning and perhaps spark new interests. Co-curricular activities play a pivotal role in the holistic development of pupils. The role of the academic curriculum remains crucial for their progress, however engaging in co-curricular activities either before, during or after academy hours enhances various aspects of a pupil’s life."
Helps Kids Learn Essential Life Skills: Engaging in extracurricular activities provides kids with valuable life skills. In various clubs and activities, they learn public speaking, standing up for what's right, teamwork, time management, analytical thinking, leadership, and more. These skills not only help them steering school and college effectively, but also prepares them to handle various circumstances in life with serenity.
Highlighting the importance of life skills, Alexander Tate, Director of Enrichment and Enhancement, Horizon International School, adds, "As the Director of Enrichment and Enhancement at Horizon International School, I advocate for the vital role of holistic, extracurricular activities in education. They foster life skills like teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, and creativity, contributing significantly to personal growth. Activities such as sports, dance, and drama also enhance social skills, build connections, and foster strong friendships with like-minded peers."
Great For Mental Health: Multiple studies and reports suggest that children partaking in extracurricular activities achieve higher academic success and overall life satisfaction. Engaging in these activities not only reduces stress but also improves mood, providing a sense of purpose and fulfilment. Moreover, children learn to cope with failure positively, understanding that it's okay to lose at times. This balanced approach helps them appreciate both failure and success, contributing to a stable and well-rounded lifestyle.
In fact, as per Alexander Tate, Horizon International School, "Engaging in enjoyable activities makes learning a journey of self-discovery, leading to personal and professional fulfilment. I believe every child has innate greatness, and enrichment programmes are key to unlocking their potential, enabling them to master skills and excel. For parents choosing a school, it's crucial to consider the enrichment opportunities alongside academic offerings. A school's commitment to a diverse range of enrichments is essential in creating a thriving educational culture.”
Adds More To Their Regular Life: For children, school and studying shouldn't be the only focus. Extracurricular activities give them something to look forward to after school, adding a sense of purpose and breaking the monotony. Each day becomes unique, providing excitement and a reason to attend classes regularly, making their school life more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Emily Scudamore, Physical Education Teacher, Bloom World Academy, adds, "Extracurricular activities play a pivotal role in the holistic development of every child. Beyond a typical traditional rigid curriculum across the globe, extracurricular activities provide students with opportunities to explore their interests, develop essential life skills, and foster a sense of community and belonging. Extracurricular activities are an integral component of every child’s education. They contribute significantly to academic success, skill development, social and emotional well-being, character building and the exploration of diverse interests. I believe that schools should prioritise and promote a wide range of extracurricular options to ensure that students have numerous opportunities to discover, grow, and thrive both inside and outside the classroom."
Improves Academic Performance: Research indicates that children engaged in more co-curricular activities tend to achieve better grades. When kids display more enthusiasm in an activity, their brains concentrate better and become attuned to it. Extracurricular activities not only contribute to improved academic performance but also allows the child to excel in life.
Adding to this, James McDonald, Principal/CEO, GEMS Wesgreen International School, Sharjah, says, "These activities complement the academic curriculum and help students to refine specific skills such as teamwork and collaboration, ultimately contributing to their maturity and providing a deeper understanding of the world around them. Students participating in extracurricular activities often experience improved academic performance, skill development including leadership and communication, enhanced social connections, and increased confidence. Additionally, such involvement can positively impact college admissions and scholarships."