Volunteering, sports, arts and mentoring are all extracurricular activities that provide a rich context for teen development and growth. The University of Florida Extension notes that structured youth activities help teens learn and improve behaviors and skills that enhance their education. School and community extracurricular activities play a role in helping teens learn for several reasons.
Identity and Purpose
Your teen can help explore his identity by choosing extracurricular activities that interest him. Volunteering or interning in a school, hospital or office building helps teens experience work environments and add to their list of skills. Participating in community youth activities allows teens to work with people who share an interest and are working toward a common goal. That helps your teen develop a secure identity and become more aware of his purpose in life. A secure identity improves confidence in other areas, including studying and learning at school.
Learning is linked to intellectual development, but your teens emotional competency also plays a major role in how he performs at school. Many volunteer and mentoring positions can be stressful and youths must learn to cooperate, control their impulses, manage their feelings and continue working even when there is no immediate gratification, such as pay or recognition. Those emotional characteristics are necessary to effectively study and learn.
Your teen's teachers will not always be able to guide him to find the best way to learn for them. Teens who make the most of their classroom learning and study time take the initiative to ask questions and find solutions. Extracurricular activities such as youth camp counseling or cleaning up a park teaches teens to take the initiative to volunteer and then contribute new ideas on how to accomplish tasks.
Developing good relationships with their peers, teachers and coaches motivates teenagers to concentrate their efforts on learning and studying. A report published in the "Journal of Social Issues" notes that teens who are better able to adapt to personal and social relationships show more resilience in their education. Extracurricular activities often place youths with adult leaders who are also volunteers and can offer valuable advice and encouragement. This helps teens make deep connections with adults and other teens.
- Journal of Social Issues: Exploring the Roles of Extracurricular Activity Quantity and Quality in the Educational Resilience of Vulnerable Adolescents
- Education.com: University of Florida Extension: Adolescent Experiences from Participating in Extracurricular and Community-Based Activities
- Hampshire College: How Extracurricular Activities Help Teens Learn
- KidsHealth: Extracurricular Activities
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