Extracurricular activities or ECA’s are a range of activities that are not part of the normal academic curriculum and are picked and chosen by students to do voluntarily.
ECA's vary very much in terms of the type of activity and the benefits they offer to each student.
Connector asked various schools and ECA providers across the UAE what the different types of ECA are and the benefits they offer.
According to Kyle Knott, Vice Principal at Star International School Al Twar, there is a wide range of extracurricular activities to choose from based on the resources and facilities available, from sporting activities including basketball, football, cricket, swimming, hockey and athletics, creative activities like design, drawing, painting, media, crafts, drama, music dance as well as technology-based activities such as coding and STEAM clubs.
As mentioned by Rob Duncan, Head of Sports at Swiss International Scientific School Dubai, there has also been an increase in the STEAM activities, which cover science, technology, engineering, art and math, coding, building drones as well as developing mobile apps.
Sulaiman Akbar, Principal at Bright Learners Private School, told us research into extracurricular activities has shown to improve academic performance through increased brain function, improved mental and physical stamina and development of emotional and cognitive recognition, which contributes towards higher achievements better attitude towards learning and better overall performance.
Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai's Director of Sport and Extracurricular Activities, James Bennett said a structured environment is crucial for a child’s development, but unstructured time for play is just as valuable and with extracurricular activities, children are able to be independent as well as perform well in academics.
Extracurricular activities have several benefits that help contribute to the development of a child.
With extracurricular activities, students learn how to manage their time efficiently in order to be able to attend their activities as mentioned by Neil Bryans, Managing Partner at U Do Academy Dubai.
Sarah Harrod, Director of Sports at Brighton College Dubai said that through extracurricular activities, students are able to figure out their hidden talents which can further cultivate into new passions and skills, with some students turning their hobby into a full-time passion.
As universities now focus on the overall capabilities of students rather than solely focusing on academics, James Bennett, Director of Sport and Extra-Curricular Activities at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, mentioned that being a part of extracurricular activities can help support character development when applying.
Additionally, Emma Shanahan, Principal at Aspen Heights British School mentioned that when participating in an extracurricular activity, students get to interact more with others as well as staff, which often does not happen during regular classes.
Most importantly, when partaking in extracurricular activities, Roel Roberts, Grade 4 Teacher and ASA Coordinator at Dwight School Dubai, said that students can enjoy and have fun while also engaging in activities that peak their interests.
Extracurriculars are a great way for a student to get a break from academics while also growing and tapping into their creative side, which helps develop a student, over the course the years.
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