There are so many benefits of extracurricular activities for kids. It’s a great way for them to get out of the house and do something they enjoy. But what we don’t often think about is that there can also be downsides to being involved in these after-school activities.
Not only that, it can also be difficult to balance out all their different interests. So although these activities help children learn about themselves and the world around them, it can be challenging for us parents to keep up.
But don’t worry. Here we’ll discuss the many downsides and benefits of extracurricular activities for kids, plus how you can tackle some of the challenges you may face.
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What are after-school or extracurricular activities?
Before we get into that though, let’s define what after-school or extracurricular activities are referring to.
After-school activities are any activity that a child can do outside of school that will further their learning and help them develop other skills.
There are several different types of extracurricular activities for various interests like fine arts, academics, sports and more. Kids can participate in these either during or after school hours depending on the program. Many can even be scheduled for the weekends.
It’s no surprise that many children are enrolled into one or two of these activities on top of their academics as they bring in many benefits for them.
Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
Like I mentioned, the benefits to enrolling our kids in some sort of after-school activity are pretty great.
And because there are many different types of activities, you’ll definitely be able to find the one that keeps them the most engaged.
Here are the many benefits of having your child participate in extracurricular activities.
Improves Social Development
For one, it’s a great way to teach children how to work together with other kids. This then helps develop positive relationships that can go beyond their school years.
By being involved in these activities, they are forced to communicate with others and learn how to solve problems. Plus it’s a great opportunity for them to gain friends outside of school, specifically with some who share similar interests.
Teaches Kids Responsibility
It also gives them a sense of responsibility as they’re going to have new directions to follow from their coaches or teachers. For example, my son’s soccer coach expects them to show up to practice on time and follow the rules.
Instead of me rushing him to get ready, I encourage him to take responsibility he’s the one doing the activity he enjoys and he’s the one that will see a consequence if he doesn’t follow the instructions.
Children Learn New Skills
Although most extracurricular activities are fun, they also require a certain set of skills. Some that are specific to the activity and others that they’ll carry on with them for life.
For example, if your child plays soccer like mine, they’re going to have to learn how to dribble, pass and kick the ball. Although these skills seem very specific to soccer, they’re actually teaching him focus and eye coordination as well.
No matter what activity you choose to enroll them into, they will learn a certain set of skills. And if you choose to enroll them into online extracurricular activities like these, they’ll start to get ahead in the technology field too.
Another valuable skill they learn is time management. Since they have to follow a schedule, it forces them to try their best to be on time. This then helps them become more organized and punctual in the future.
Gives Them a Sense of Belonging
In addition, children learn how to be a part of a team with other kids. He learns about teamwork and how to communicate with others.
By being in these activities, they have more opportunities to spend with their group. This helps them feel like they belong somewhere that isn’t just at home or school.
When this happens, it also keeps them engaged in the activity.
Allows Kids to Explore Their Interests
These activities are also a way for children to explore their interests and true talents. And I say true because you and I know that kids like to show off everythingggg they do thinking they’re good at everything LOL.
So this helps them not only understand what they’re truly interested in, but where they can shine.
And what makes these activities great is that you don’t just have to stick to one. You can test out several at different times until you find the right one.
Motivates Kids to Stay Active
Another great benefit of extracurricular activities is that it encourages children to stay active.
Instead of sitting in front of the TV after school, our kids will be releasing some energy, even if the activity you choose isn’t necessarily an “active” one like sports.
We all know how important it is for our kids to be active. Plus, many activities help them gain muscle and develop stronger bones with time. And we all want our kids to be healthy, right?.
Promotes Academic Performance
Did you know that kids who participate in extracurricular activities are likely to perform better academically?
Yup. It’s been shown that one of the benefits of extracurricular activities is that it links to higher academic achievement.
And if kids are involved in the activities directly via the school, they typically require certain passing grades in order for participation. This means there is no room for the kids to start slacking on their schoolwork if they want to enjoy and participate in their after school activity.
Prepares Them for College
Since participating in extracurricular activities promotes academic performance, that means our kids will be better prepared for college.
And as we all know, getting into college can be pretty competitive. This means kids with talents in extracurricular activities increase their chances of being accepted to the university of their choice.
I know it may seem like ages away from now as our kids are still little, but it’s never too early to set them up for a successful future.
However, nothing in life is perfect so of course there are not only benefits of extracurricular activities, there are some disadvantages too.
Disadvantages of Extracurricular Activities
Yes it’s true that after-school and extracurricular activities are great opportunities for children to learn new skills and meet new people outside of their normal social circles.
However, there are some disadvantages as well. The good news is that most of these disadvantages aren’t necessarily deal breakers but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Below are the possible advantages of putting your kids in after school activities.
Can Be Expensive
Let’s cut to the chase and start with the one that may likely be a deal breaker for a certain activity which is the financial aspect. Most activities are not free and will have fees to participate.
But some activities may cost more than just the enrollment fee per season. Some extracurricular activities are especially expensive due to the equipment required, and in some cases the travel fees too.
And if you have more than one kid in after school activities, multiply this by the number of kids. So yeah, this can get pretty expensive.
However, there are some things you can do to minimize expenses. For example, you can buy used equipment instead of getting the newest stuff on the block.
Many programs have also begun allowing payment plans in order to increase the number of participants. So this would be another great option so that the fees don’t hit your bank account at once.
And if you have multiple children, consider having them take turns throughout the year. For example, the oldest can enjoy their activity the first half of the year while the youngest gets enrolled for the second half.
Children (and Parents) Get Tired Quicker
If you think about it, after school activities can be pretty tiring for kids. They come home from school and then spend several more hours in the dramatic arts classroom, dance studio or on a sports field.
This means they come home exhausted with barely enough energy to get things done at home, and may even take them a little while longer to wake up in the mornings. And the more activities they take part in, the more tired they get.
But us parents get tired too. I mean, all that driving and waiting for them to finish is more exhausting than it sounds.
One way to solve this is to be more selective about the after school activities your children sign up for. If you think your child may not have enough energy left to do good in school, it may be best to choose something else for the time being.
Also limit their extracurricular activities to no more than one or two (depending on the energy level needed for each). This way they won’t get too exhausted and can still focus on what matters most which is school.
Having an after school routine can also help not only your child, but you as well. When you know what to anticipate and plan for it, it’ll take away some of the stress which can release that tired feeling afterwards.
Introduces Frustration in Kids
Another disadvantage to extracurricular activities is that it can introduce frustration into our kids’ lives. This may happen if they aren’t performing up to their standards in either the activity or at school.
This frustration may also make them not want to participate in the activity any longer, especially if they feel like they are trying their very best.
So instead of putting pressure on your children, encourage them to have fun doing their after school activity instead of aiming for perfection.
This way, they won’t feel the need to get things done right the first time which will take away the frustration that comes with it. After all, it takes practice to learn certain skills and they don’t happen overnight.
Another thing you can do is monitor their progress and talk to them about how the activity is going. When doing so, give them a positive perspective and always let them know they’re doing a great job.
Time Commitment From Parents Required
Let’s face it, extracurricular activities come with commitment not only from the kids, but especially from the parents. It’s not like our little ones can drive themselves to practice twice a week LOL.
And depending on how busy your work schedule is, it may not always be possible for you to do so.
Plus, besides committing to getting them to their activity, you’re also committing quite a bit of your time. Time that you would probably prefer to spend in other ways because yes, us moms are always busy.
Plan, plan and schedule plan. This is critical to minimizing the chaos of having your kids participate in extracurricular activities.
This way, you are better prepared ahead of time so you’ll run into less surprises. Schedule out the time you need to leave the house to get there on time and then plan out your day accordingly.
Something else you could do is only sign them up for activities that require minimal time commitment like once a week. You can even rotate out with your partner or a family member so it won’t always be on you.
Increases Pressure on Parents
Going back to the point above, signing your kids up for these new hobbies can put a lot of pressure on the parents, especially us moms.
Although we want to push the responsibility off to our kids, it ultimately falls on us to ensure they have what they need and get them there on time.
And because we are spending more time away from home, other tasks and chores can tend to add up. Oh and don’t even mention cooking, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who has a cook for a husband LOL.
Once again, talk to your partner and see how you two can work together so that neither of you gets overwhelmed. Discuss who will be taking the kids to practice and when, and what the other person can do to help in other ways when it’s not their turn.
For example, you can implement a cleaning schedule that’ll help make chores easier at home. You can then assign these chores to the person who isn’t taking the kiddos to their activity.
And if you feel like it’s getting too much, talk to each other. Two minds are better than one and your partner should be your strongest support system. Together, you two can come up with a plan that works for you both.
The extracurricular activities that you choose for your kids can have a huge impact on their future. And as you see, the disadvantages outweigh the benefits of extracurricular activities for kids as there are many ways around them.
So why not start them young? Now is a great time to let your kids explore their interests so that later down the road, we already know where their true talents lie. Plus, they’ll have fun doing them too!
Are your kids enrolled in any after school activity? How has the experience been for you and what would you change? Please comment below as I would love to hear from you!