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How Can Extracurricular Activities Be Transformative For Your Child?

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By Dr. Surabhika Maheshwari
5 Mar'22  5 min read
How Can Extracurricular Activities Be Transformative For Your Child?
Synopsis

Parents are often concerned about what all their children can do beyond academics that facilitates the latter’s holistic development. At the same time, a lot of parents want their children to focus only on academics, and not go beyond it. Extracurricular activities in school bring with them a whole bunch of benefits for children and teenagers who pursue them, given that the activities are chosen wisely. This article will help all parents understand the exact definition of extracurricular activities, the importance of extracurricular activities, and in the process of reading through it, also identify examples of extracurricular activities for kids.

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How Can Extracurricular Activities Be Transformative For Your Child?
Synopsis

Parents are often concerned about what all their children can do beyond academics that facilitates the latter’s holistic development. At the same time, a lot of parents want their children to focus only on academics, and not go beyond it. Extracurricular activities in school bring with them a whole bunch of benefits for children and teenagers who pursue them, given that the activities are chosen wisely. This article will help all parents understand the exact definition of extracurricular activities, the importance of extracurricular activities, and in the process of reading through it, also identify examples of extracurricular activities for kids.

Read more

Definition Of Extracurricular Activities - What Exactly Is ‘Extracurricular’?

Let us begin by talking about the definition of extracurricular activities. A child needs various modalities and domains to explore and express themselves. Extracurricular activities include all interests outside of the ‘curricula’ - all the activities in school and outside, that may be understood over and above that of the regular requirement of the school syllabus. We have heard old adages like ‘All work and no play make Jack a dull boy’ or ‘Play is the work of a child’ etc. Right at the outset, I would like to create a distinction between play and extracurricular activities – both being essential to the healthy growth and development of the child. Play is essentially unstructured activity, where the child engages himself alone or with other kids for enjoyment and recreation. Play is an important part of growing up and should not be entirely replaced with the more structured, usually tutored extracurricular activities. Once this is established, let us go on to understand the need and importance of extracurricular activities for kids.

How To Choose Extracurriculars For Your Child?

Now that we have a deeper view of the definition of extracurricular activities, let us understand how, and how not, we should help our children choose extracurricular activities for themselves.

Extracurricular activities need to be chosen wisely – keeping in mind the temperament of your child, the child’s personality and its needs, the interest of the child, the ease and comfort of the availability, and approachability of the activity chosen, the desired outcome, and most importantly, they should facilitate a process of discovery and exploration. Extracurricular activities for kids should not be something that burdens the child or the parent, either physically or financially, and it should also not be an activity that is merely done to prove status, membership or allegiance to a group or parental aspiration, nor should it be something where the child feels threatened or pressured to prove and perform.

It is important to consider this for students who are picking up extracurricular activities in school. This space should not become emotionally exhausting and pressurising. This space should allow a child to enjoy the pursuit, encourage and provide possibilities for self-expression and excellence. The extracurricular activity should be chosen after some rounds of information gathering, allowing the child to try some short-listed ones, and choosing the one that the child feels drawn to and enjoys. It may take your child a couple of years to come to finalising a couple of activities that they want to pursue for a sustained period.

Importance Of Extracurricular Activities

The contributions and benefits of extracurricular activities that a child learns to appreciate and commit to are numerous. Here are some of them:

Allow The Child To Discover Themselves

Most importantly, extracurriculars help an individual find his or her own self. The child learns to explore their talents, interests, strengths and weaknesses. This has an imprint on personality development – a well-rounded personality is usually a result of exploring oneself through these various interests.

Inculcate Life Lessons

Commitment to these activities teaches invaluable life lessons, such as patience, that comes from developing and honing a skill, also inculcating determination, perseverance, and goal-setting.

Help The Child Develop ‘Mastery’

All of these attributes, along with practice, help the learning of a new skill and slowly, a ‘mastery’ over it. Mastery is not necessarily being the best, but it is in fact the ability to learn something that was earlier absent from the individual’s repertoire – for example learning to swim, learning to play a musical instrument, or learning the techniques of a sport.

Mastery doesn’t mean being the best swimmer, the best Sitar player or the best cricketer - it means learning how to stay afloat in water, and then slowly getting better at it by practising and learning the various strokes.

Rise In Confidence And Self-Esteem Levels

Children who enjoy and pursue at least one or two extracurriculars for a sustained amount of time are likely to extract maximum benefits from these activities. If the choice is well made, we should encourage our children to stick to one activity till they reach a level of comfort and some proficiency. This contributes immensely to building self-confidence and self-esteem while availing the benefits of extracurricular activities.

Positive Channelisation Of The Child’s Energies

The pursuit of extracurriculars also helps the child channel his or her energy in positive and constructive ways. The learning, exploration, social interactions, parallel interest development are all facilitative in this regard, allowing the child to develop a deeper relationship with their extracurriculars.

Development Of The Child’s Personal Sanctuary

Another less acknowledged, but significant contribution of taking up extracurriculars is the creation of a personal sanctuary – the child develops a relationship with their own talents and its practice that allows them to feel safe and express pent-up emotions in a productive manner. This, in turn, leads to feeling in control of one's own self, emotional expressions and vulnerabilities.

We hope this article helped you get a better understanding of the definition of extracurricular activities, the importance of extracurricular activities, and also some ideas and examples of extracurricular activities. The well understood and practical contributions of honing an extracurricular cannot be ignored. It definitely leads to knowledge acquisition and adds to the skill set of the individual. Extracurriculars also adds to the overall exposure and the availability of opportunities for students. Proficiency in an extracurricular activity not only helps with admissions and selections but also with developing an enjoyable side hustle later in life. The benefits of extracurricular activities really do add that extra edge to an individual’s growing up experiences and personality and it is important that we, and our children, understand the benefits of extracurricular activities.

Dr. Surabhika Maheshwari is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University. She has more than 20 years of extensive experience in academics and practising psychotherapy.

  • Human activities
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  • Behavioural sciences
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