Extra-curricular activities: more than just glorified babysitting

Extra-curricular activities: more than just glorified babysitting

 

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What is the purpose of extra-curricular activity?  

To different people it can mean different things: sometimes it’s an essential component of a carefully planned childcare regime, which is necessary so that you can fulfil other commitments. Sometimes it’s another thing squeezed into an already stressful week, which you feel obliged to do because that’s what everyone else is doing. A lot of the time it’s an activity that your child likes taking part in, so you fit it into the week for their enjoyment. 

Everyone has their own reasons for signing children up to extra-curricular clubs, but let’s take a closer look at the benefits for children of taking part in organised and structured activities after school, at weekends and during holidays.  

  • Socialising with children outside of their class or immediate friendship group can build confidence and communication skills. Children gain a sense of belonging from being part of a group or team, particularly when those children share their interests.  

 

  • The hours children spend at school are already packed full and with all the will in the world, teachers don’t have enough time to explore everything in as much depth as your child might like. Extra-curricular groups give children the chance to enjoy a hobby such as dancing, building robots or playing tennis and learn those skills in depth, often from specialist teachers.  

 

  • By finding an activity that your child really enjoys or excels at, you will be boosting their self-confidence. 

 

  • Sports clubs are particularly good for teaching teamwork and co-operation. Learning to be a gracious winner is important, but learning to lose is arguably more important as it builds resilience which can be transferred to other aspects of life. 

 

  • The ability to swim, cook or speak Spanish doesn’t just come out of nowhere. Children need to learn a whole range of life skills, so why not start them young so that it’s easy and fun?  

 

  • Almost all extra-curricular activities will be keeping children busy away from screens, which is something many parents find is a challenge. 

 

  • Many extra-curricular activities involve physical movement, which is healthy for both mind and body, putting children on the path to being active and healthy adults. 

 

We read recently in a TES article that attendance at extra-curricular sports clubs has dropped dramatically since before the pandemic, and that even though clubs are back up and running now, many children are reluctant to return. There is a myriad of reasons for this, and every family is different, but what we can be sure of is that whether it’s Brownies or Cubs, painting, drama, hockey or ballet, extra-curricular activities are much more than just glorified babysitting.