Extracurricular Activities

Call them what you will — extracurricular activities, after-school classes, or enrichment programs — what they all have in common is that ‘extra’ that goes a long way to making the school year, well, extra special.

As parents we know learning doesn’t stop when the final bell rings. In fact, educational experts contend that extracurricular activities actually help your child to improve their academic performance. These after-school classes and programs offer enriching activities that can keep your children excited and engaged long after their notebook closes for the day. There’s such a wealth of choices — robotics, art, writing, theater, dance, music, gymnastics, science and sports.

These programs also allow kids to explore other interests and develop broader perspectives. Not to mention building good self-esteem and providing different social opportunities than they have during the day. Some parents are proponents of having children take classes outside their school district so they can make friends with other kids to shake up their daily environment.

Extracurricular activities can also help develop essential life skills. Whether it’s how to win or lose on a sports field, how to channel creative inspiration in art class, how to be a team player or an entrepreneur, these experiences outside the classroom can be especially rewarding. Exploring other areas of interest that are fun and engaging allows kids to take a break from academics and that pause can be productive when they sit down later to do homework.

The caution is, as with everything, that moderation is best. A child doesn’t need to have an activity every day of the week, in fact too much of a good thing can be — well, detrimental. The goal is to go for balance. And if that means your child has to pick and choose one activity over another then you have taught them another important skill, how to make choices and live with them.