– Kunal Dalal, managing director, JBCN Education Group
What is the importance of extracurricular activities in a child’s formative years, and how can our children thrive best in today’s constantly changing world?? This is a thought-provoking question; today, the focus has shifted beyond academic excellence to a much broader spectrum. The change is necessary given that we live in a world, characterized by, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
The impact of globalisation has opened a new gateway for many youngsters to travel the untrodden path and explore careers in their field of interest. Our Gen Z refuses to limit themselves. They follow unconventional career paths and thrive in unconventional workspaces.
Educators today must change with the times and ensure that they give enough opportunities to explore various extracurricular activities to their students. It is a proven fact that participating in extracurricular activities offers several advantages that positively affect a child’s development during the formative years.
In fact, they should no longer be characterised as extracurricular activities because they are an integral part of the curriculum.
Today, the focus is on the holistic development of the students rather than only on academic excellence. The whole-person learning approach focuses on developing the mind, body and soul alike. Giving prominence to extracurricular activities in school paves the way for a child’s balanced and systematic physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth.
Academic and Social development
Getting students engaged in extracurricular activities fosters their academic and social development. Many studies have been conducted on the association between extracurricular activities and academic performance. It demonstrates that students who actively participate in extracurricular activities have a better attitude towards learning.
Healthy brain development
“Two Brains Are Better Than One: Integrating the Left and the Right”- is a thought-provoking quote from the book, The Whole-Brain Child. It is important to harmonize the left and right brains of the learners by activating them simultaneously. Educators today are exploring how children can balance both sides of their brain to enhance their flexibility, adaptability and fulfilment in life—healthy brain development results from the dynamic interplay of nature and nurture. Nature refers to the social and physical environment. Nurture, on the other hand, refers to a child’s understanding through the types of interaction governed by the five senses.
When equal importance is given to academics, sports and other extracurricular activities, the learners get ample opportunities to opt for a healthy and balanced lifestyle. This has many benefits, including enhanced physical and mental health.
Healthy interaction among peers
Healthy peer-relationship is one of the most important aspects of school life. Extracurricular activities allow students to interact with others with similar interests and potentially build friendships outside of their usual circle. This leads to the development of critical social-emotional skills and more social acceptance.
Better mental health
Mental health is a global challenge in the 21st century. Emotional, psychological, and social well-being issues are common in today’s world. Extracurricular activities ease stress and encourage students to explore their interests. With the focus on tapping the multiple intelligences, students get an opportunity to shine in their own way.
Every child is a potential achiever and has a treasure within. Extracurricular activities help students find this treasure by allowing them to develop their skills, knowledge, and personal qualities by doing things they enjoy. It is rightly said that while academics are important, extracurricular activities teach our children the life lessons that transcend the four walls of a classroom.