The purpose of school is to educate. The old saying of "Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic" still holds today. Textbooks and grades and homework and studying and writing reports; school is about academics and learning and growing intellectually.
Still, every teacher and every researcher will tell you that students who are involved in extracurricular activities at their school will tend to do better on the academic side of schooling than students who are not involved.
From elementary to middle (and certainly in high school), schools offer a wide array of groups for students to join from sports to clubs to music groups and even academic teams (!). Joining a group in school gives students a chance to see and play with different students who share a common interest. Sometimes students who struggle with the academics and who would otherwise avoid coming to school will have great attendance because they want to be involved in their club or team--and they like to see their friends from these groups during the day in school.
Many teachers enjoy leading such groups for the same reason that students enjoy being a part of these groups. It gives teachers a chance to see different students and their own students in a different light. And it gives students a chance to see their teachers differently. In the classroom there are strict rules of behavior. In a group that meets before or after school, there are still rules of behavior, but it's different without the desks and the front board and the pens and pencils.
Here is a short list of some of the benefits for children:
- Time management and prioritization
- Getting involved in diverse interests
- Learning about long-term commitments
- Making a contribution
- Raising self-esteem
School is a place of learning and we know that students (and adults) learn inside and outside of the classroom. We want our children to have many experiences when they are young to help them to decide what they like, what they don't like, and what they may be interested in doing later in life. Extracurricular activities teaches students that life isn't all about reading, writing, and arithmetic. All activities are linked to all other activities in some way.
So encourage your children to be part of clubs and groups--including groups outside of the school arena, such as scouting. Some of their fondest memories will be about the times they spent in these groups.
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