Extracurricular Activities for Kids
After the school bell rings, kids don’t always have to go straight home. For many schools around the country, extra-curricular activities and after-school programs are just as important as everyday classroom instruction.
Though, not every school can afford to offer a broad choice of programs. Rural and inner city schools, where school funding may be limited, may only be able to offer certain programs during the year, whereas a well-funded school can offer a more diverse list of activities that can focus on academic achievement, the arts, or simply give kids a safe place to hang out.
Though, there still may be plenty of options for kids. Most schools tend to offer the common after-school programs traditionally offered. It is best to visit your child’s school to find out what types of extracurricular programs are offered and find out more information about them like the program’s schedule, responsible teacher, and if there are any requirements before your child can join.
Of course, the most common extracurricular activities offered at many schools are athletic based. The types of sports programs offered will vary based on your child’s grade level, state or region, age, and the available funding for sports programs in general. Some of the most common athletics offered by schools include:
- Track & Field
Participating in sports as an extracurricular often comes with many requirements including academic and medical. Many states and schools have strict standards when it comes to the academic eligibility for athletes. Students often have to maintain a certain grade point average, must be present in school a certain number of days, and must routinely report progress reports to coaches to make sure they’re following the requirements. All of this includes the student not engaging in activities that would get them punished by school officials, which in turn would prohibit them from participating in the future.
Medical requirements often include passing a routine physical to make sure your child is healthy enough to play and doesn’t have any underlying medical conditions which might pose a risk to them while participating.
Most sports will require some type of equipment or accessories in order to play, with some requiring more equipment than others. Baseball tends to be the most expensive sport to play. If you’re a family on a budget, sports might not be an option, or your child may only be able to play one sport a year.
Of course, there is always the risk of injury when playing any kind of sports, even when using safety equipment. With all contact sports comes the danger of broken bones or concussions. Before allowing your children to play sports in school, make sure you discuss the risks with them and they understand all the possibilities and responsibilities that come with playing sports.
For the less athletic type of student, the performing arts are another common option for after school activities. Generally, there are fewer requirements for participating in performing arts programs, but students should bring some kind of talent if they hope to enjoy themselves.
Common performing arts programs include:
Of the performing arts, band is often the most expensive as it requires students to rent or purchase their own instruments. In some schools where funding is an issue, some schools do keep some instruments that students can use throughout the year, but these instruments are usually first come, first served. Check with your school’s band director to see if instruments are available or if they know where you can get an instrument for your performer.
Those in the choir often need to be able to sing and will be placed in their correct section by their choir director. Unlike band, students most often must have proficient talent to sing the style of music the choir performs.
Dance and Ballet are rigorous extracurricular activities that are perfect for those who have done ballet before in their free time, or just enjoy dancing in general.
Theater has a vast number of different activities beyond the obvious role of being an actor. From stage design, lighting, stage direction, costumes, and other technical aspects, there is bound to be something for your child to do, even if they don’t have any talent for acting.
Clubs can either be academic or purely for fun. Clubs are by far the most diverse as they may differ from school to school and from state to state. Some of the more common types of clubs that might appear in schools include:
- Chess Club
- Academic Decathlon
- Spanish Club
- French Club
- Student Council
- Book Club
- Drama Club
- Glee Club
- Film Club
- Science Club
- Cooking Club
- Yearbook Club
Chess club is by far the most common club likely to be offered after school. Generally, students of various skill levels can join and sometimes competitions are held between students or other schools.
Besides Spanish club, many foreign language classes hold their own club where students learn more about the language and culture of the region where the language is spoken.
The idea of many of these clubs is simply to bring students who have similar interests. From singing, to acting, to photography, to reading, the varieties of clubs your kid can join are endless. If there is a need for a specific type of club and your student has an interest, it may even be possible for them to start the club on their own so long as a teacher or parent volunteer is willing to sponsor and watch over the club.
Activities Outside of School
Not all of the activities your son or daughter participates in has to be related to school. While school is the easiest avenue for finding extracurricular activities, it certainly isn’t the only one.
For example, your family church may have several community programs it runs that requires the help of many volunteers, whether it’s running a food bank, being an usher on Sunday, or helping with church events like festivals. There may also be programs they can join such as bible fellowship classes they can join where they can learn more about their religion.
Beyond religious organizations, there may be many city organizations like food banks, homeless shelters, or neighborhood associations that may require the help of young people from time to time.
No matter the type of organization your child decides to join, sticking with a club, especially one focused on academics, will be a great focal point when they place it on their college applications. It is probably a good idea for your son or daughter to join a few clubs at first to see which ones they enjoy and which ones they don’t feel are good fit for them.
Clubs offer a great opportunity to make long term friends and help students build the necessary social skills they’ll need once they leave for college.