When you remember your school years, what is the first memory that comes to mind?
It’s probably not the hours spent cramming for a geometry final or researching a term paper in the library. It’s more likely you remember what happened outside the classroom: afternoons spent on a practice field or rehearsing for the spring musical, the pride you felt in scoring the winning goal or seeing your name in the school paper. Even more than the classes, you remember your extracurricular activities.
Extracurriculars Have Something for Everyone
Surveys of American high schools suggest that nearly all schools offer several extracurricular activities, as do many elementary and middle schools. Activities include sports teams, musical and theatrical performance groups, publications, or clubs based on interests or hobbies. In most schools, the range of offerings is wide enough that almost everyone can find something of interest, and parents who encourage and support these activities are helping to set their children up for success both now and in the future.
Extracurriculars Have Many Benefits
In 2018, the United States Census Bureau released a report called “A Child’s Day” that demonstrated the benefits that participation in extracurriculars have on a student’s engagement in school. Bruce Jennings, Principal at Bremen High School, agrees. Despite its student body of fewer than 500 students, Bremen High School offers more than 60 extracurriculars, including less common activities such as gymnastics and Future Farmers of America. With 75% of Bremen students participating in at least one activity, Jennings attests that students involved in extracurriculars often see many benefits, including:
- Improved academic performance
- Broader perspectives from looking at issues through a different lens
- Higher self-esteem and self-confidence
- An expanded social network
In addition, students who participate in activities outside the classroom often have more post-secondary options. “College Admission Offices tend to appreciate students who were actively engaged in extracurricular programs while in high school,” notes Jennings.
Life Skills for the Real World
Students who participate in extracurricular activities typically learn life skills that they can carry with them, regardless of where their education or career path takes them. Jennings explains that students learn “goal-setting, problem-solving, public speaking, teamwork, time management, leadership, prioritization,” and they establish a “work ethic that can be documented.”
At Bremen High School, “we emphasize the fact that life is all about forming good habits – habits that make a positive difference in their community wherever they are located,” says Jennings.
Younger Students Benefit Too
Extracurriculars are woven into the American high school experience, but even younger students can often participate in – and benefit from – activities outside of school.
“If we can help students at an early age experiment with different extracurricular programs, they will likely eventually find a niche in which to grow their skills and share their passion,” Jennings notes. “Experiencing the highs and lows of competition or performance, especially in a low-risk environment, can certainly strengthen students’ characters.”
Jennings advises parents to “expose your kids to opportunities at an early age, encourage them and praise them and their friends, know their friends and their friends’ parents, and emphasize outdoor play as opposed to screen time.”
Too Many Activities Can Be An Issue
When it comes to extracurriculars, one issue that families often deal with is overscheduling. Families with working parents, multiple children, and multiple activities can sometimes find themselves stretched too thin and need help managing it all.
Jennings suggests that as parents, you “listen to what your child is saying about friends, activities, interests, and school. If there are concerns, seek assistance from coaches, teachers, and administrators. They are there to help.”
However, he also notes that students’ time in school, managing both academics and extracurriculars, is excellent training for adulthood.
“I also believe that a little stress experienced in one’s life at a young age can serve as motivation and build perseverance in older age; therefore, I have found that busy high school students tend to stay busy in college and beyond,” Jennings says. “They have simply acquired a habit – a habit that they truly enjoy and helps drive them to thrive.”
Bremen Public Schools is proud to offer a diverse range of extracurricular activities for students of all ages. Visit our website to learn more about enrolling your child in BPS, no matter where you live in Indiana.