E xtracurricular activ ities make more well-rounded students

While textbooks and pop quizzes

are largely associated with

the school experience, for many

students school is also equated to

sports practice and band participation,

among other after-school


Many studies indicate that

extracurricular activities are

good for the body and the mind

of students. Students who participate

in these activities are

often more successful academically

than those who sit on the


Is it because those who participate

in after-school clubs and

such are generally the brighter

students, or is it that the activities

themselves boost academic performance?

Many experts believe

it's a combination of both factors.

Apart from academic performance,

extracurriculars have

a number of advantages. Many

of these activities are physical

in nature, which is a help

for remaining fit and healthy.

They also test skills in patience,

teamwork, perseverance, and

problem-solving. Another advantage to afterschool

activities is that they can

boost self-esteem, primarily for

students who may not be as academically

gifted as others. The

chance to excel can lift spirits and

even make a student want to try

harder in the classroom.

Extracurricular activities may

also keep children from risky

behavior, such as promiscuous

sex or drug/alcohol use.

Recent research by the 4-H

youth development program says

that involvement in school extracurriculars

and involvement in

community clubs and organizations

is important in fostering the

strengths of youth — strengths

that help young people steer away

from undesirable behavior.

Despite these benefits, many

parents inwardly sigh when they

hear their child has signed up

for an extracurricular activity at

school. That could be partly due

to the responsibility the parent

now has to transport the student

to and from, as well as other

participation requirements.

But Robert Needlman, M.D.,

F.A.A.P., the physician who has taken over the reigns from beloved

childcare expert Dr. Benjamin

Spock and oversees DrSpock.

com, says parents should keep

these pointers in mind as they

support their children's extracurricular


• Remember that you are

contributing to a different but

important type of education for

your child. Besides, you may even

find the time you spend in the car

with your child (and his friends)

can offer you new insight into his

life, views and friendships.

• If your child is engaged

in a number of extracurricular

activities, your challenge may

be to help him balance all of the

demands on his time. There is no

hard-and-fast rule to tell you how

much is too much at any given

age. Instead, you need to help

your child be realistic about how

much time and energy he has.

• If your child isn't involved

in any extracurricular activities,

he may need help identifying his

options. You can call the school

and ask about extracurricular

offerings and about the teachers

who supervise the activities.

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2009-11-26 digital edition

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