“I’m bored,” my 11-year-old daughter grumbled as she collapsed onto the couch. Oh no, what did she do now during a rare unscheduled moment in her life? I cringed, remembering when she was three and covered an entire wall with a crayon-drawn mural when left to entertain herself.
To prevent other artistic wall coverings, we have kept her busy with extracurricular activities. And, lots of them—last spring, she had six activities ranging from sign language class to swim team.
You might think that’s a lot, but we have good reason. Research by NCES states that students who participate in after-school activities have better attendance, higher levels of achievement, and more aspirations for higher levels of education. With that in mind, let’s look deeper into five benefits of multiple extracurricular activities.
Better Academic Performance
Far from being overwhelmed, my daughter made all A’s in her academic classes. By participating in extracurricular activities, she learned new skills to apply to school. And, her grades reflect how beneficial those activities were.
For example, my daughter used information from garden club to learn about plants in her science class. She also learned how to use statistics, addiction/subtraction, probability and geometry from sports such as basketball, baseball and football in her math class.
A number of research studies have discovered that students who participate in extracurricular activities perform better in school. In a study of high school students, researcher Douglas Reeves found that students who were in three or four extracurricular activities had dramatically better grades than those who participated in none.
Another study by the College Board found that high school extracurricular participation correlated with higher SAT scores. Specifically, SAT math scores increased by 45 points and SAT verbal scores increased by 53 points.
If a child participates in more than one activity, they will encounter multiple sets of rules and expectations from teachers. They will also have the opportunity to meet kids with different personalities and interests. These interactions will teach a child how to adapt to new situations.
In a work setting, Maddi and Deborah Khoshaba’s training guide, Resilience at Work, discusses the importance of being an adaptable employee. For example, adaptable people who lose their job actually thrive because of their ability to adapt to new circumstances. Being adaptable is a skill that can be beneficial both in school or work settings.
Better Social Skills
By participating in extracurricular activities, children will gain social skills from interacting with authorities and their peers. They will also learn about teamwork by playing a sport or participating in group classes such as music or drama.
In my daughter’s book club, they end their discussion with social time. My daughter did not read the assigned book before one particular meeting, but she still wanted to attend the club because she loved the social interaction.
Less Screen Time
According to a research report by Common Sense Media, the average teen spends over nine hours per day playing video games or watching TV.
If children participate in after-school activities, they will have fewer opportunities to consume media. Instead, they will learn new, useful skills.
Decreased Risk of Obesity
According to the CDC, obesity has affected about 12.7 million children and adolescents over the past decade.
Children who participate in sports will lead healthier lives, be physically fit, and be more active than their peers who sit inside consuming media.
Finally, How to Balance Your Child’s Schedule
Sometimes I question whether my daughter has too many activities. I am always cognizant of her energy level and let her skip an activity if I notice a drop-off. For example, when I noticed she was not enthusiastic about gymnastics anymore, we decided it would be best not to sign up for the next session.
It’s important to make sure your child is happy and learning while participating in these activities. And, in the case of my artistic daughter, definitely not bored.