As parents, we all want our children to succeed and thrive in life. But did you know that extracurricular activities can play an important role in their overall growth and development? These activities are an excellent way for children to explore their interests, learn new skills, and develop friendships.
In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of after school activities on your child's learning as well as the types of clubs available for kids in the UK. From boosting cognitive skills to enhancing social skills, these activities have a significant impact on your child's personal growth and development.
We will also offer tips on how to balance academics with activities outside of school and encourage your child to engage in them, with expert tips from Stagecoach's own Chase Demmers, Educational Programme and Partnerships Manager for Stagecoach Head Office and a teacher and Manager within a Stagecoach franchise. Read on to discover how extracurricular activities can help your child unlock their full potential and set them up for future success.
Understanding extracurricular activities
Extracurricular activities offer a great way for students to receive a well-rounded education. By participating in activities outside of the classroom, students not only develop important time management skills but also have the opportunity to explore new interests and hobbies.
"Our DD has attended [Stagecoach] since age 3/4 starting in the Early Stage class and is now in the Main School and is still attending aged 9. She loves it..."
Beyond school, clubs provide valuable real-world experiences that enhance social skills through interaction with peers. Additionally, involvement in such activities can give students a sense of purpose and achievement.
As Chase explains: “Extra curricular activities like Stagecoach are incredibly enriching for young people and very much aid development in terms of life skills.
“Young people spend a lot of time at school being educated about the core academic skills needed to thrive in further/higher education and the world of work. We all know that actually, a lot of the time it is the individuals with strong and developed life skills such as communication, relationship building, teamwork and problem solving that thrive in interviews and the workplace.
“This is particularly vital to a young person's success when they are taking those first steps into work after education and they need to rely on their personability and attitude as they have little or no experience in the workplace to evidence.”
Overall, participating in out of school activities is beneficial for students' personal and academic growth.
Children can pursue their passions outside of the classroom
The concept of extracurricular activities
Extracurricular activities, like sports, clubs, singing, dancing and community service, go beyond the academic curriculum, allowing students to pursue their passions.
Extracurricular activities in the UK are available for children as young as two years old. At Stagecoach, for example, their Mini Stages and Early Stages dance, drama, and singing classes are specifically designed for younger children. Once they turn six, your child will graduate to the company's Main Stages classes, and for teens and young adults, Stagecoach's Further Stages advanced classes are a great way to extend their performance skills.
Stagecoach also offers holiday workshops for kids and teens that run during the UK's school holiday period.
Engaging in activities like drama and sports provides real-world experiences and practical application of skills, preparing your child for the challenges of the "real world." That's not all - participating in clubs and teams can enhance college applications and CVs, showcasing a student's interests, dedication, and well-roundedness.
Types of extracurricular activities for children
Engaging children in out of school activities is a great way to enhance their learning and development.
Here are some examples of activities your kid might enjoy doing:
Sports activities: these promote physical fitness, teamwork and are great for socialising.
Clubs: joining a club will allow children to explore specific interests like music, art, coding, or debate. Companies like Stagecoach are a great way to get involved in singing, dancing, and acting for kids.
Community service: instils the value of giving back and volunteering.
Performing arts: encourage creativity and self-expression.
Academic enrichment programs: these provide opportunities for academic growth beyond the classroom.
These varied activities expose children to the real world and help them acquire new skills.
Read next: Top tips for starting secondary school
Benefits of extracurricular activities on learning
Extracurricular activities play a pivotal role in enriching a child's learning experience, offering a range of benefits that extend far beyond the classroom.
As Chase points out: “children and young people come to Stagecoach every week to learn new skills in singing, acting and dancing. “However, we also have a whole strand of our Educational Framework dedicated to the life skills that we know can be developed through taking part in performing arts activities.
“We have had many Alumni go on to achieve great things in the creative industries, but equally as impressive, our Stagecoach Principals are always telling stories of ex-students who get in touch and have gone on to become scientists, doctors and lawyers.
“They credit some of their success to Stagecoach and the creative courage and confidence they developed by being able to take risks in a safe space with like-minded peers.”
Activities like Stagecoach seamlessly complement academic pursuits, amplifying cognitive skills while nurturing a well-rounded and focused individual.
1. Practising theoretical knowledge
One of the most significant advantages of engaging in extracurricular activities is the practical application of theoretical knowledge. Students have the opportunity to translate classroom concepts into real-world scenarios, igniting their creativity and sparking innovative thinking.
This bridge between theory and practice not only enhances problem-solving and critical thinking abilities but also fosters a deep understanding of the subjects they study.
Whether sports, art or music, having an extracurricular activity is a great idea for kids
2. Essential life skills
Beyond textbooks, extracurricular clubs and interests pave the way for essential life skills. Time management and organisational prowess, essential for juggling diverse activities, become second nature to students. This immersive experience nurtures responsibility and commitment, imparting values that extend to all aspects of their lives.
3. Enhanced social skills
Extracurricular activities provide children with opportunities to interact with peers who share similar interests. Collaborative projects and team-based activities help develop communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. These social skills are crucial for success in the professional world and personal relationships alike.
4. Emotional well-being
Participating in extracurricular activities can have a positive impact on a child's emotional well-being. Engaging in activities they enjoy promotes self-confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of accomplishment.
"My DS has been going [to Stagecoach] for nearly 7 years. It has really helped him with his confidence and anxiety. It’s such a lovely, encouraging and supportive environment. My DD joined a couple of years ago and loves it just as much."
It also serves as an outlet for stress and can reduce anxiety associated with academic pressures.
5. Cognitive benefits
Engaging in these activities cultivates analytical and decision-making skills, setting the stage for a sharper intellect. Through strategic planning and innovative ventures, children refine their cognitive prowess, positioning themselves for success in any field. The spectrum of available activities also encourages them to explore various domains, fostering a love for learning that extends well beyond the classroom walls.
6. Focus and attentiveness
By indulging in enjoyable pursuits, students expand their attention spans and learn the art of maintaining concentration. This relationship between focused engagement and relaxation helps to instil discipline, an invaluable asset as they progress in their educational journey.
Your children can develop their passion from childhood to adulthood
The significance of extracurricular activities in future opportunities
Extracurricular activities are a great way for students to showcase a well-rounded profile, enhancing their chances of strengthening college applications and resumes. By participating in these activities, your child can demonstrate real-world experience and skills, setting themselves apart from other job applicants in the future.
Additionally, engaging in extracurricular activities can also enhance their chances of receiving scholarships and grants. These activities provide an opportunity for students to develop new skills, making them stand out among their peers.
For example, with Stagecoach's Further Stages classes, teenagers aged 15+ are encouraged to hone their performance skills by working as a small theatre company. They're also prepared for any auditions to theatre and vocational drama schools.
Beyond education, showcasing transferable skills gained from extracurricular activities can be a great way to gain a competitive edge in the job market. Employers value dedication and commitment beyond academic achievements, so highlighting experiences that demonstrate problem-solving and critical thinking abilities is crucial.
Chase himself is a former Stagecoach student, and shares: “I can without a doubt say that Stagecoach really helped me to go from being shy and slightly unsure about myself, to someone who was more confident and much more comfortable in social situations.
“It helped me to believe my strengths and not be scared to address my weaknesses.”
Additionally, expressing adaptability and flexibility through involvement in various activities can make you stand out as a well-rounded candidate with diverse interests and experiences.
By showcasing these skills and experiences, your child can demonstrate their potential for success in the real world.
Balancing academics with extracurricular activities
Cultivating effective time management skills is a great way to balance academics with activities. By prioritising academic commitments without neglecting the benefits of extracurricular activities, your DC can create a schedule that allows for success in both areas.
Seeking support from teachers and mentors can also help in balancing responsibilities.
Additionally, finding ways to integrate academic concepts into extracurricular pursuits can enhance learning in the real world. With proper balance, high school students in the UK can develop new skills and excel both academically and through their extracurricular activities.
Maintaining a healthy balance
To maintain a healthy balance between academics and your child's interests, it's important to set realistic goals and expectations for both. Creating a structured routine can help manage time efficiently, while communication with teachers and activity leaders allows for better workload management.
Prioritising self-care and rest is essential for overall performance, and learning to delegate tasks and ask for help when needed promotes a healthy balance.
Supporting your child’s interests helps to nurture their development
Parental support and guidance
Encouraging and supporting your child's involvement in activities is a great way to nurture their growth and development. As parents, it's important to arrange transport and logistical support to help your children participate in their chosen activities.
Chase adds: “As a parent myself it was important to me that my children were part of clubs and activities that they enjoyed. We have tried lots over the years, from sports like rugby and football to art clubs and coding.
“However, the one that has stuck over the years is Stagecoach. I have always been mindful not to live my passions through my children and that they are authentic in what they want to do. The friendships they have made over the years at Stagecoach are definitely some of the strongest that they have.
“In addition to that, I’m able to see my children flourish in the same way that I did. My daughter is now 16 and my son is 12 and Stagecoach is definitely helping to shape them into well-rounded individuals.”
"Two of my children have been going to Stagecoach for a few years and I think it is excellent."
So, by celebrating their achievements and milestones in their children’s extracurricular pursuits, parents can help reinforce their motivation and passion. Effective communication with teachers and coaches fosters a positive experience for your child in their extracurricular journey.
About Stagecoach Performing Arts
At Stagecoach Performing Arts, we teach singing, dancing and acting classes for children aged 4-18. Our students learn key life skills with us such as confidence, communication skills and resilience while having the opportunity to expand their imaginations and make new friends. We have been helping our students reach their full potential for 35 years and have seen over one million students walk through our doors. You can search for your local school and sign your child up for a Two Week Trial on our website.
About the author
Rebecca Roberts is a writer, editor, and content marketing expert hailing from Leeds. Here at Mumsnet, she commissions, writes, and edits to bring parents content designed to make life easier. As a mum-of-two, she knows all too well how hard it is to find extracurricular activities that are suitable to her DC's ages, interests and abilities. So, you know you can trust her opinion when searching for the right extracurricular activity for your DC, too.
Beyond her role as an editor here at Mumsnet, Rebecca can be found balancing life as a working mum of two toddlers and when she’s not at her desk, you’ll likely find her at a local playgroup, in a nearby coffee shop, or walking the dog up and down country lanes.