Kids seem to be busier than ever, between school, after-school activities, sports and homework. While some children thrive on this, others may find it hard keeping up with it all. Many parents are left wondering which type and how many extracurricular activities are right for their child and what the effects are of these activities on adolescent development.
Extracurricular activities can have numerous benefits for adolescent development. According to TeensHealth.org, participating in these activities can give kids the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and break down the barriers between people. Children can boost their self-confidence and learn about discipline and commitment. Extracurricular activities can help teens who are applying for college or a job, since it shows that they are well-rounded and can handle responsibility. These activities can also give youth something constructive to do with their free time, preventing them from engaging in risky behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, using drugs or having sex.
When it comes to choosing a type of extracurricular activity, there are all sorts for kids to choose from. There are team sports, like basketball, softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball and hockey. Kids can try tennis, bowling, ice skating, gymnastics or martial arts. Maybe a club would interest your child? Try Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H, drama, theatrical or book clubs. If your child is into science, he could get involved in a science club or if math is his thing, find a math club or team.
Getting Your Child Involved
Sometimes it can be tough to get a quiet or socially backward child to come out of her shell to get involved in extracurricular activities. Offer choices and encouragement. Start by contacting your child's school and asking about available activities. KidsHealth.org recommends compiling a list of the activities available. Present the choices to your child and talk with her about what might interest her. Let her choose a few activities to try; this way, she can try them out and select what activity fits her best.
You need to know how much is too much when it comes to extracurricular activities. Kids should enjoy what they're doing, without being overly stressed about their activities. As a parent, it's your job to decide, along with input from your child, how many activities are right for him. Scholastic.com advises watching for signs that your child is over-scheduled and not getting enough downtime. Signs include trouble sleeping, irritability, overeating, stomachaches and anxiousness. KidsHealth.org suggests that if any activity is adding stress to your child's life, then it's not the right activity for him. He can take a break from the extracurricular activity or drop it completely.
- Scholastic: 12 Warning Signs That Your Child May be Overscheduled
- Wiley Online Library: Extracurricular Activities and Adolescent Development
- TeensHealth: Extracurricular Activities
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Extracurricular Activities
- University of Nevada Reno: Extracurricular Activity
- Everyday Health: Balancing School with Extracurricular Activities
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images