Many parents and students do not understand the importance of extra-curricular activities. Over the years I have had to persuade a number of parents to allow their children to continue participating in extra-curricular activities, because they felt that these activities distracted their offspring from their academic work. This scenario tended to unfold either when a student was struggling academically or when the student wanted to focus totally on academics, to the exclusion of everything else. They felt that extra-curricular involvement was a waste of precious time and that it caused their children to get home too late in the evening.
Nothing could be further from the truth than this notion of wasting time. Academic subjects and extra-curricular activities complement each other and develop a well-rounded, socially skilled, and healthier student. There are so many possible extra-curricular activities that each student can choose one that appeals to him or her personally. Activities range from athletics, various sports, scouts, girl guides, debating, music and chess to paramilitary groups like the cadets. This list is not even exhaustive. Some students choose more than one pursuit.
Extra-curricular activities help to develop the whole student. We cannot just produce one-dimensional students in our schools. Many students use their skills in extra-curricular activities like athletics or sports and their academic ability to gain athletic or sports scholarships to various universities. Numerous students from my former school are granted athletic scholarships to American universities in this way.
Researchers like Massoni, Erin ( 2011 ) and others have listed many benefits derived from participation in extra-curricular activities at school. I have seen the same benefits among my former students. Let us consider some of them.
Students who are involved in extra-curricular pursuits tend to improve their academic grades as well. This may be due to increased self-esteem, motivation and better time management. They become better organized in the classroom. They demonstrate a reduction of at-risk behavior and a heightened sense of belonging, resulting in better behaviour.
They learn useful new skills from their chosen activity, and in integrating these activities into their everyday school lives, they learn time management, critical thinking, teamwork and social skills. They develop life-long relationships with their peers and learn how to lead others. These skills will be beneficial in later life and in the workplace.
Extra-curricular activities also foster a sense of commitment to a cause or purpose and they reduce selfish behaviour. Students become more marketable in the workplace.
Through the avenue of extra-curricular activities students find it much easier to gain admission into universities. Modern universities are more interested in recruiting students who have something to offer besides academic qualifications. They seek out students who can make a contribution in other areas to the university and the society at large. Many universities and some schools make money and gain prestige through their extra-curricular engagement in various arenas.
Hopefully, more parents and students will see the importance of extra-curricular activities and diversify and deepen their interests and hobbies. The whole society will benefit. Finally, as one of my readers, AKGM, commented below: “A lot of careers are built directly from hobbies.”