Each December, schools across the country abound with holiday programs, musicals, concerts, art shows, presentations, etc. It is a wonderful time for children and teens to show off all their amazing talents and skills across various subject areas. Extracurricular activities, such as music, art, athletics, etc. have many benefits. These special areas and after school activities can be especially important for those students with learning or behavioral differences. We have put together 8 reasons why we love extracurricular activities and the benefits they bring!
1. Highlights Different Intelligences
According to Gardner's Theory on Multiple Intelligences, there are at least 8 areas of intelligence such as kinesthetic, musical, visual-spatial, etc. Oftentimes in our society, we place more emphasis on the linguistic and mathematical intelligences that align with more traditional academic courses. It is very common for many students, especially those with learning differences, to have gifts and talents in other areas of intelligence. Extra-curricular activities offer wonderful opportunities to highlight and validate these areas of expertise.
2. Strengthens Creativity
Even if a child has creative gifts and talents, they still need time to practice and refine those creative skills. Extracurricular activities offer children a space to strengthen their creativity. Engaging in creative outlets also helps children with their problem solving, flexibility, and resiliency.
3. Improves Academic Performance
Countless studies have shown that participation in extracurricular activities boosts academic performance. Oftentimes these activities allow students to transfer their academic skills to more real-world and authentic tasks. In addition, there are many positive correlations between activities such as reading music to increased success in mathematics and literacy.
4. Provides Socialization
Whereas a student might not have as many opportunities for talking and collaboration within a regular education classroom, after-school and special area classes are teeming with opportunities to work together, communicate, problem-solve with others, etc. Even students who tend to be more introverted and shy can find a safe, less-intimidating space for socialization that suits their personalities.
5. Develops Well- Rounded Skills
We all know that it is extremely important to educate the whole child. In today's educational and career landscape, it is not enough to be competent in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Individuals must be able to think outside the box, ask questions, demonstrate flexible thinking, problem-solve on the spot, and actively listen and communicate. Providing your child with a variety of ways to develop and learn in diverse contexts is truly setting them up for success in the future.
6. Enhances Life Skills
Extracurriculars also provide occasions for your child to work on real world skills. Cooking classes, arts and crafts, music lessons, sports, etc., will all help your child with their day to day skills and tasks. This can be especially important for those children who have challenges with everyday routines and skills.
7. Improves Concentration
Sports, music, art, gardening, etc. will absolutely require your child to foster their ability to focus and concentrate. Yes, they need to concentrate during more traditional academics too. However, the benefit of practicing this skill through an extracurricular activity, is your child will probably be so wrapped up in the fun and/or competition, they will most likely not even be aware of all the concentrating they're having to do.
8. Channels Energy
For students who have more energy, trouble focusing, difficulties managing their bodies, etc., extracurriculars can be a fantastic way to channel and exert energy. Furthermore, these activities can help your child learn strategies and techniques to calm, center, and redirect themselves.
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