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What are Extracurricular activities and why are they important?

One of the greatest misconceptions that parents have about learning is that, “for a child to become academically sound or successful in life, he would have to sit with his books and study endlessly.” They believe that any other activity aside from studying “really hard” would pose a threat to their academic excellence. This is quite sad because this misconception is the reason why some students do not even perform well academically.

Even the popular saying which most parents are aware of, “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy” suggests that as much as students study hard, there should also be a time for them to participate in activities that are not directly academic. So let’s take a quick look at what Extracurricular Activities mean.

Extracurricular Activities are activities that fall outside the academic curriculum. These are activities that help students to grow and develop, but take place beyond the 4 falls of a classroom.

Types of extracurricular activities:

– Sports: Example table tennis, football, hockey, baseball, swimming, etc
– Scouting: Examples include boys scout, girls scout.
– Performing art: For example, drama
– Visual art: Painting, graphics design, pottery, photography, etc
– Academic club: For example chess club, literary and debating club, chess club, etc
– Music.
– Dance.
– Community service.
– STEM program.

Benefits of Extracurricular Activities.

1. Improve academic performance:

In a study by the college board, research found that participation in extracurricular activities increased SAT math scores by 45 points and SAT verbal scores by 54 points. As you can see, this study has helped to support the fact that extracurricular activities help students to improve their academic performance.

A student who is part of the chess club would be good at critical thinking and can always apply this ability when he finds himself in the exam hall. Another student who’s part of the literary and debating club would also know the value of time management and can apply it during exams. Generally, all students who participate in extracurriculars would understand the principle or “practice” & “commitment” and these are required for students to participate well academically.

2. Find friends with shared interests:

Another astounding benefit of extracurricular activities is that it helps to bring friends with like minds and similar interests together.The classroom does not really allow for this to happen because in a classroom, you’d always find students with different interests. However, extracurricular activities help to solve this problem by gathering students of like mind together.
The interesting thing about this is that when friends with like minds come together, there’s bound to be a “spark.” That is, there’d be a probability that these friends would come up with mind-blowing ideas that could change the world forever – and one of these friends could be your child if you give them a chance. For example, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream are friends who met themselves in the gym while they were in seventh grade. Their friendship led to the founding of a business that has helped them so much. Here in Nigeria we have three friends, Olalekan Elude, Opeyemi Awoyemi, and Ayodeji Adewunmi who met each other while in the university. Their friendship also led to the founding of stunning startups in Nigeria – Jobberman.
I believe that you know how beneficial it can be when kids get to meet with friends with whom they share interests. Extracurricular activities make this easier, hence it must be encouraged.

3. Discovering and development of talents:

There are a lot of talented students in schools who are unaware of the gems that are lying dead inside of them because they haven’t been exposed to opportunities that would enable them to discover or develop their talents. And the truth is, not every student would discover their talents while studying loads of textbooks. Some might have to digress a little bit into extracurricular activities to discover and then develop their talents.

A STEM club for example can help Ayomide discover that he has a knack for engineering or help Khadija discover that she’s a potential “tech sis.” The book club can also help Emeka discover and develop his writing skills. Even the next greatest footballer would have to discover his talent while he’s on the field and not in the lab. Extracurricular activities give students the opportunity to explore and find their talents and passion which can lead them to a better future.

Talent, when discovered and developed can open several doors of opportunities for a student, but sometimes, that student might have to take part in some extracurricular activities that interest him/her.

4. Landing Your Dream Job:

Landing a dream job is not as easy as it used to be. Nowadays job seekers don’t dream of jobs anymore. They simply forget about dreaming and accept the job as long as it pays their bills. But don’t be surprised when I tell you that students who participated in extracurricular activities while in school have an advantage over those who didn’t when it comes to landing a dream job.

I’m sure you’re aware that asides from a certificate, employers now request for a skill/talent that can make their employees more effective in the workplace. You would agree with me that Khadija, the potential tech sis from above would find it easier to land her dream job with a tech startup company than some other job seeker who only has a certificate. The same goes for Emeka who discovered and developed his writing skills while he was a member of the book club. It would be easier for him to land his dream job as a writer with a newspaper company of his choice… or he could even decide to become an established author.

Extracurricular activities help students to prepare for the future. It empowers them to be able to compete in the global world too!

5. Makes College Admission Easier:

Extracurricular activities make it easier for students to gain admission. Students often find it difficult to gain admission into the college of their choice which is mostly due to the fact that students need a high test score to qualify.

However, most colleges nowadays go beyond test scores. They now have an eye out for extracurricular activities that students partook in during their pre college years. Therefore, participating in extracurricular gives students an advantage when it comes to seeking college admission. It’s always a plus when the activity chosen by the students is related to their course of study. It goes on to prove that students already have some level of exposure to the course of study. For example, a student who was part of the literary and debating club and has also participated in some competition would be picked over a student who didn’t belong to any club, yet had the same score.

Preventing kids from participating in extracurricular activities only does them more harm than good, so you shouldn’t stop them, rather encourage them.

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