You are likely being bombarded with marketing and messaging to sign your child up for all kinds of programs beyond school hours. While it may be something else to add to your already full plate, many enrichments add significant value to a child’s development. The key is to choose the right fit for your child based on their needs. Use this guide to understand the existing evidence-based benefits of the various options commonly available to you.
Giving your child an opportunity to participate in a language-based extracurricular activity sets them up for success in a number of ways. When students are bilingual, they learn more quickly and with fewer difficulties. They are better problem solvers. They know how to be creative. Once your child is older, these language skills will give them more job opportunities.
Language-based extracurricular activities might include afterschool clubs for a specific language or lessons with a tutor.
One study, focused on the effects of language on memory , conducted by Julia Morales of Spain’s Granada University showed that children who learn a second language had a clear advantage in working memory. Their brains worked faster in retrieving information and problem-solving. For language lessons, you can facilitate at home, check out Little Pim and Rosetta Stone Kids.
Though dance is commonly referred to as a girl’s activity, your child can participate no matter what gender they are. Because there are so many different types of dance, your child can use dance as an opportunity to discover where their own interests may lie.
Aside from being a great way for kids to exercise and release some of their pent-up energy, dance also provides children with joy and peace. It’s a great way to relieve stress related to school, and it can even improve mental function. Though having healthy self-esteem is important for all students, girls can often use an additional boost of confidence, and dance can help with that.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk on why dance is just as important as math in school offers a research-based perspective that provides insights into how dance and movement can be an important part of every child’s learning journey.
Academic extracurricular activities are perfect if your child is already interested in a particular subject. Be sure to continue encouraging this by helping them join extracurricular activities that are geared toward their interests. This might mean your child joins a math club or the spelling team.
Your child will continue to grow in a particular academic subject, such as science or reading. They might have the opportunity to work at a higher level, which can challenge them and teach them how to work hard and persevere. They will gain confidence and learn how to handle possible failures.
For example, Math is one subject that benefits from consistent practice. Programs like Kumon, Eyelevel and Mathnasium offer opportunities for paced math practice that will help your child master grade-level concepts and beyond.
There are many ways for your child to participate in a music-based activity. Your child can join a band and learn with other children, or they can take individual lessons.
One of the major benefits of having your child in a music-based extracurricular activity is that music has been proven to be therapeutic and soothing. If your child is worried about school or dealing with other things in their life, playing an instrument can help them cope with it. It can also encourage creativity and help them want to try more new things.
Recently, Researchers followed 147 Dutch schoolchildren—half of whom took supplemental music-education classes, along with their regular curriculum—for two-plus years, beginning at age six. Their findings were positive and suggest that the cognitive skills developed during music lessons can influence children’s cognitive abilities in completely unrelated subjects, leading to overall improved academic performance.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) enrichments give your child so many wonderful opportunities to grow and develop as problem solvers. If your child shows interest in STEM, find a STEM club or class that engages that interest. This is especially important for young girls who may feel disconnected from STEM Careers.
For girls, involvement in STEM clubs or activities outside of school has a significant impact. A study commissioned by Microsoft showed that girls that participate in STEM enrichments are 2 times less likely to be embarrassed to ask questions in STEM class and 3 times likely to say they will continue to study a STEM subject.
The martial arts can be very beneficial to your child. The practice of karate can teach your child respect and self-discipline. It allows them to get active and engage with other children. Your child will also have to learn teamwork and how to resolve possible conflicts. In karate, children often have to use their good listening skills. They have to set goals for themselves to continue their growth. By doing all of this, kids can increase their confidence and self-esteem. Although there are many types of martial arts options available to your kids, studies show that karate and taekwondo are the best as they do not show negative side effects like aggressive behaviors.
Team sports get a lot of praise, but individual sports can be beneficial too. It’s a good idea to get your child involved in all kinds of extracurricular activities, whether they’re on a team or working alone.
Children who play individual sports learn how to depend on themselves for their success. For this reason, children have to learn how to motivate themselves. This may mean that they have to practice often or teach themselves self-discipline to get better. In this way, Individual sports help build self-esteem and independence.
Regardless of whether your child plays individual sports or team sports, the general consensus is that sports have a positive effect on the kids. A University of Kansas study looking at the performance of students in grades 9 to 12 showed that more than 97% of student-athletes graduated high school, 10% higher than those students who had never participated in sports.
One of the most popular types of activities for children is team sports. This includes everything from lacrosse to basketball. In many communities, these team sports are easy to find. Your child can even participate as part of their school’s team.
Sports help to get kids active on a regular basis. Children learn how to be a part of a team and how to lead that team. They build relationships and communicate with their teammates. Children also learn how to encourage each other and lift each other up as they grow.
Recently, researchers have been able to link team sports reduced depression in kids, particularly boys. Adult depression has been linked to a decrease in the volume of the hippocampus, the portion of the brain that affects memory and prepares the body’s stress responses. Their study showed that students involved in team sports have a higher volume of the hippocampus.
Your child’s school might offer a chess club. If your child is interested, there are many benefits to learning how to play chess. It raises their IQ. It exercises both sides of your child’s brain. It allows your child to problem-solve and be creative.
Playing chess requires so many aptitudes that in June 1999, the international Olympic committee officially recognized chess as a sport. Your kids will greatly benefit from the strategic skills they develop as they navigate the game board and problem solve each move against their opponent.
Art is a creative way for your child to spend their time. They can do art at home, but they may want to take an art class to help develop their skills. Art helps to promote confidence. It allows children to learn how to solve problems. With this, children have to learn patience and determination. Most importantly, the expressive quality of art helps kids understand themselves and their world. “When we encourage our children to explore art, we encourage them to master themselves, their bodies, and a variety of tools and techniques. We give them many ways to express themselves. As parents and teachers, we can offer an environment where it is safe to experiment and create, where questions are encouraged, and children have free access to the materials they need and enjoy.”
Explorer clubs include clubs like the Boys and Girls Scouts. These clubs help children to develop important life skills. When children learn these skills, they gain confidence in themselves. They learn how to rely on themselves. They also learn how to work with others by communicating and building relationships. Children learn how to respect their group’s leader and follow directions.
Seventy-eight percent of girls scouts have had leadership experiences in out-of-school time activities, compared to fifty-five percent of a national sample of girls and sixty-one percent of boys.