I’m bored,” my 11-year-old daughter grumbled as she collapsed on to the couch. It was a rare unscheduled moment in her life. I cringed as I recalled what can occur when she has a spontaneous second. At the age of three, I assumed she was quietly playing with her toys only to discover the entire wall was covered with a new crayon drawn mural. We are both happier now she is enrolled in art classes.
She prefers being busy, which is why she participated in six different extracurricular activities this past spring. Her interests ranged from sign language to swimming. Besides avoiding boredom (and messes) there are many benefits to having scheduled activities for your child. Research by NCES states that students who participated in after-school activities had better attendance, higher levels of achievement, and aspirations to higher levels of education.
Better Academic Performance
Even though my daughter was in six different clubs or sports, she received all A’s in her academic classes. By participating in extracurricular activities, a child is able to learn new skills which can be applied to their school setting. For example, my daughter was in the garden club and she used the information she learned about plants in her science class. Sports such as basketball, baseball, and football use statistics, addition, subtraction, probability, and geometry which can be applied to math class.
A number of research studies found students who participate in extracurricular activities perform better in school. Douglas Reeves studied data at Woodstock High School and found that students who were in three or four extracurricular activities during the year had dramatically better grades than those who participated in no extracurricular activities. There was even a study done by the College Board, which found high school extracurricular participation is correlated with higher SAT scores.
If a child is participating in more than one activity, they will also experience more than one coach or teacher who will have different rules and expectations. They will have the opportunity to meet kids with a range of personalities and interests. These interactions teach kids how to be adaptable to multiple people and situations.
Maddi and Deborah Khoshaba’s training guide, Resilience at Work, discussed the importance of being adaptable and how when adaptable people lost their jobs, they thrived due to their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Being adaptable is a skill that can be beneficial both in the school and work setting.
Better Social Skills
Children also gain beneficial social skills both from the person in charge along with their peers. They also have the opportunity to learn about teamwork by either playing a sport together or doing a group class such as a musical for drama.
In my daughter’s book club, they have social time at the end of their book discussion. Even when she isn’t interested in the book that month, she still wants to go to the club since she loves the social interaction with her peers.
Less Screen Time
Common Sense Media research states that teens spend over 9 hours per day playing video games or watching TV, on average. If children are participating in after-school activities, they will have less screen time opportunities—plus, they will hopefully learn some new skills!
Decreased Risk of Obesity
According to the CDC, obesity affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents for the past decade.
Children who participate in sports are likely to be more active, which leads to better health benefits from being physically fit. Even if your child participates in a non-sport activity, they will likely be more active than if they were sitting in front of the TV.
How to Balance Your Child’s Schedule
It is important to balance your child’s schedule. Be cognizant of their energy levels. If my daughter needs to skip an activity once in a while, I let her. Or when I noticed she wasn’t enthusiastic about going to gymnastics anymore, we both decided it would be best not to sign-up for the next session.
Finding a good balance for your child will ensure they are happy—and hopefully—not bored! Check out our Enrichment Directory on page 9 of the September issue for some great, local options!