Introduction - Learning must be fun! The importance of extra curricular activities
Don't we all want learning to be fun? When children enjoy learning, they grasp concepts more quickly than when they are bored. It is important to provide them an environment where they can learn through play.
Learner Circle has created a platform where children can learn many skills and have fun while doing it! This is because the influence of EA on learning capabilities is far more impactful.
A lot has been said about the importance of extra curricular activities in the cognitive development of children. But, despite this, we often undermine its impact and the crucial role it can play in forming and shaping personalities of children. In this article, we highlight the history and evolution of EA along with its importance.
It is said that a student’s future can be determined by the things he does after school. Extra-Curricular activities can be encouraged at all levels of school in various forms. Examples of EA include drama, school clubs, debates, public speaking, music, art, dance and singing.
Studies show that the beginnings of EA for students began in the 19th century in the USA. These beginnings trickled from prestigious Institutions like Harvard and Yale Universities. Like all things associated with school, EA began with a practical or vocational goal in mind. It began with the formation of literacy clubs that generally consisted of debate clubs and Greek Systems. But soon the formation of athlete clubs overshadowed the literacy clubs. The spread of EA became even wider during the time of World War 1. As the popularity of EA spread, journalism was added to the curriculum.
Why did EA become popular in the school curriculum?
The study found that engaging children in activities after school reduced behavioural problems. The discipline that sport demanded played a huge role in the shaping of personalities. The sense of accomplishment also induced a sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
In an article, it states that ‘Extra-curricular activities serve the same goals and functions as the required and elective courses in the curriculum. However, they provide experiences that are not included in formal courses of study. They allow students to apply the knowledge that they have learned in other classes and acquire concepts of democratic life’
Renowned experts Brown M.D, Hollow and Howie reiterated in their studies that between the ages 9-17 years, it is crucial for students to be actively engaged in EA. According to them, the most dangerous time for bad behaviour is the time after school and the time before the parents get home. It is a time when kids are most vulnerable to victimisation and violent behaviour. It is also a time when kids are learning to have self-control and gain some sort of independence.
The following benefits of EA were highlighted in their studies;
Improved behaviour: When engaged in EA, students are placed under supervision and guidance. This environment that provides an enriched learning experience is a fertile ground for personality development. This positive channelling of creative energies keeps them distracted from deviant behaviour like drugs, criminal involvement and gang formations.
Improved grades: Achievements in sport, music or art, always invoked a high sense of achievement. This sense of self-worth automatically led to a positive approach to academics and class-room achievements. This change in attitude led to an overall improvement in grades. In a study by USDE, it showed that students engaged with EA are more likely to achieve better grades.
Self-esteem: The change in behaviour and attitude towards academics showcased a definite increase in self- esteem. This was a good predictor of academic performance. This also had an impact on the student’s love for school and the school environment.
Self-confidence: Students improved their self-confidence and were more likely to develop more positive adult attachments.
Teacher perception: It improved their emotional connection with the school and actively promoted good temperament. Students are able to have an improved perception of their teachers.
More productive students and adults: When engaged in activities like Music, art, dance, singing or sport, students begin to have versatility in their goals. It also gives space for positive competition in their lives. This promotes the culture of hard work and perseverance. Thus, creating more responsible and productive people for the world and society at large.
The lessons your child innately learns from EA
Lessons in leadership
The impact of EA on University admissions and recruitment
Participation in EA also increases the opportunities for a student to find a job more easily. Having an interest that complements your area of work makes a resume more appealing to a recruiter. Many prestigious colleges give important weightage to the EA angle. It could also help a student get a scholarship to a college.
In Harvard’s Interviewer handbook, it states that Harvard’s admission process is highly competitive. Academic achievement is abundant in its applicant pool. However, Harvard still seeks
"Candidates with a wide range of skills beyond academic achievement''
In a detailed study it showed that Harvard seeks to identify a wide range of distinguishing excellence. Although Harvard's admission process includes an applicant pool with abundant academic achievement, a good number of these applicants get rejected.
It is no doubt that EA has multiple influences on a student’s personal, academic and physical development. It is important, though, to identify what a student is interested in and then guide him/her towards the same. Generally, a student cannot be forced into EA. EA has to be voluntary. It is important for both parents and teachers to help identify the aptitudes and passion of the student. This knowledge can be used to channelize the student’s creative energies positively.