Any activity that isn’t required for school credit can be classed as extracurricular, from sports and hobbies to online courses after school hours or even helping out in the local community. Although these typically fall outside of the realm of a typical school curriculum, these activities are just as important as school subjects. Extracurricular activities help pupils learn about themselves and their interests, giving them a chance to pick up new talents or provide value to others. They’re also an essential part of a child’s development, both during and after their school career.
Improving Academic Performance
Although they mainly take place outside of the classroom, extracurricular activities can also help pupils to improve their academic performance. At Aldenham Education Group (AEG) we like to offer our pupils an all-round education, and extracurricular activities are a major part of that education as they give pupils a chance to carry on learning outside of the classroom. When engaging in interesting or creative activities, a child is more likely to be stimulated, and they’re more likely to bring that enthusiasm back to their academic studies. While activities like sports help improve pupils’ physical health, they’ve also been shown to improve their mental health – a 2020 study found that pupils who participated in extracurricular activities were less likely to feel anxious or depressed, and thus more likely to perform well at school.
Teaching Them New Skills
A pupil’s education shouldn’t only take place in the classroom – they might not get the chance to learn new skills or develop undiscovered talents. Whether it’s a sport like badminton or curling, or an artistic endeavour like knitting or pottery, extracurricular activities give pupils the chance to try out new skills and discover where their talents and interests might lie. Our schools have a prestigious sporting history, offering our pupils activities including football, hockey, netball, cricket, sailing, rounders, and more. Our pupils also get involved in the arts, with drama productions and music lessons in state-of-the-art facilities. All sports and hobbies offer pupils a chance to learn something new that could help them later in life – chess teaches them how to plan ahead, learning a new language teaches them about the wider world, and music helps them develop movement and coordination skills.
Boosting Children’s Confidence
Extracurricular activities help pupils to discover their passions, which in turn helps them to strengthen their sense of self. Children learn to define themselves outside the classroom, which in turn leads to higher self esteem and boosts their confidence. By dedicating time and effort to perfecting a skill or a talent, children are more likely to see an improvement, and when that happens, they’ll feel more motivated to continue trying. This motivation sees them challenging themselves to meet milestones, whether that’s playing a new song on the piano or mastering a gymnastics move, and they take this willingness to learn new skills into the classroom. At AEG, we encourage this – our pupils in the UK often take part in schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which sees them earning certifications for skills such as hiking, orienteering, cooking, and even volunteering their time to help others.
Improving Their Social Skills
Whilst some children struggle to form friendships, taking part in extracurricular classes and activities gives them a chance to meet other children with similar interests. The activities and classes on offer at AEG schools instil a sense of camaraderie amongst our pupils, giving them fond memories and long-lasting friendships. By working and playing more with other pupils the same age, children learn to pick up social skills that will help them later in life.
A paper published by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies showed that extracurricular activities helped pupils develop important skills such as showing empathy towards others. By meeting other children who they might not otherwise have encountered, they’re able to expand their worldview. At our newest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, which opened in Saudi Arabia this September (and we plan to open more soon across the Middle East), local traditions and values are embraced to encourage our pupils to learn more about other cultures. Extracurricular activities allow children to feel more of a sense of belonging as they connect with their fellow pupils or teammates, which in turn can make them feel more welcome at school and more willing to engage in the classroom. Team sports help with this, as they emphasise the importance of teamwork, and encourage pupils to work together more.
Setting Them Up For Later Life
As well as teaching them valuable life skills, such as sporting talent, knowing a foreign language, or knowing how to play an instrument, having participated in a wide range of extracurricular activities reflects well on a pupil. Universities, for example, look for extracurricular activities on applications, and those that show a range of skills and interests make a pupil stand out from the crowd. Sports, creative activities, and those that show leadership skills, are some of the most sought after. Even after university, extracurricular activities still come in useful, as they can be included on their CVs when they’re applying for graduate roles. At AEG, one of our main goals is to prepare our pupils for life after school, as best as we can. As well as offering an all-round education, we also encourage our pupils to take up the extracurricular activities that will benefit them the most.
Extracurricular activities have a positive impact on our pupils’ development – not only do they help our pupils both academically and socially, they also set them up for successes in later life. From sports and music to art and drama, they all help children to find new skills and boost their confidence. To find out more about the kinds of extracurricular activities that we offer at our schools, visit the Aldenham School or the Aldenham Prep Riyadh websites.