Updated: Apr 25, 2022
It might seem like the school year is already pretty busy for your child with school, homework and you know...life. You're probably cautious of adding even more to their plate.
And if you're just starting out on your school parent journey yourself, you might already feel overwhelmed by the number of things you're meant to be fitting in too!
However, rather than being an additional burden, extracurricular activities could be precisely the break your child needs and can actually make your life easier as a parent too.
Here are some of the benefits of a few extracurricular activities in your child's schedule...
1. Igniting a new passion
An older child may think they only love football, but what if they can design their own app about football? Perhaps they’ll discover a love for app design too.
A younger child may only be interested in their dinosaur toys, but what if they join an art club and discover they can channel their dinosaur knowledge creatively?
Trying something brand new can kickstart a passion that a young person will carry with them as they grow.
Beyond the short-term fun that this new passion can bring, it can help define a path in life that could even lead to a career, especially with more educational pursuits.
2. Encouraging an open mind
Doing the same things week in week out can feel monotonous and is likely to lead to your child feeling disengaged from their activities. As they get older this will probably lead to them being less inclined to stray outside their comfort zone either.
Encouraging your child to explore a wider range of interests can help them better define what they like and don’t like, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. But more importantly, it can also get them into the habit of trying new things and taking on new challenges.
Not all children immediately latch onto a new extracurricular activity, but the process of trying, learning and improving can give children a self-belief and confidence that push them in later life, too.
3. Contributing to future success
Interests outside of schoolwork and sports always look good on a school or university application, or even one day on a CV.
Even if you're many years away from worrying about university applications, setting your child up to explore new interests now will give them a solid foundation to develop the people skills, eagerness to explore new things, and dedication that will make a difference down the line.
Some research studies, including this one, have even shown a direct correlation between participation in extracurricular activities and higher test scores and overall engagement in education.
5. Developing staying power
If you've ever started a new exercise regime, you know how hard it is to keep it up after the initial novelty has worn off.
Your child may have told you for months how much they want to start karate, but after the third week they're telling you they don't want to go anymore. Chances are they haven't stopped liking karate, they've just realised that pursuing it means turning up and trying their best every week.
But if you can push past that initial resistance until the class becomes a routine, they'll start to see how commitment reaps benefits not only in the activity itself, but also in their own enjoyment of it. This is a lesson in the importance of staying power that will be useful both in school and life beyond.
OK, but what about you?
I know that running around getting your child, or multiple children, to different places in different kits or with different equipment can feel exhausting, for them and for you too.
But a child that is engaged in interests outside of school hours is more likely to have an improved mood, better sleep, and be more engaged across their other activities. Also that precious 40 minutes of gymnastics class can buy you some time off childcare too!
Of course, I'm not saying that you should force extracurricular activities onto your child. There's certainly a balance between taking part in activities and having sufficient down time to rest at home.
But if you're looking ahead to the coming term wondering about extracurricular activities, remind yourself of some of these benefits for now and your child's future and maybe take the plunge with something new.
Little STEAMers classes for 2-5 year olds give your child the chance to pursue STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) outside of school with a variety of fun hands-on activities. And the great thing is you can join the classes from home on your own schedule. You can try your first class for free here.
Inventors & Makers after-school clubs run via schools only at the moment but an online equivalent for children to do at home will be available soon. Schools can see more here.