The quest for fostering well-rounded individuals has gained paramount importance. The conventional notion of learning confined solely within classroom walls has gradually given way to a broader perspective that encompasses the holistic development of a child. Within this context, the significance of extracurricular activities in schools has emerged as a powerful catalyst for nurturing a child’s multifaceted growth.
Extracurricular activities, often referred to as the ‘hidden curriculum,’ encompass a diverse array of engagements that extend beyond the conventional academic realm. These activities encompass sports, arts, clubs, community service, and more, providing students with opportunities to explore, experiment, and excel beyond the confines of textbooks and lectures. Let us look deeper into how these activities help shape a child’s personality.
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Why the importance of extracurricular activities is often overlooked
The world is moving towards an economic race where every individual and nation at large is focusing on making money. In the quest to make a child eligible to create remuneration in adulthood, it is observed that the child is deprived of any activity that might take the child away from the said goal. Unfortunately, the thought process that gives playing sports or games and indulging in any extracurricular or recreational activity a tag of being a “non-essential area of focus” that takes a child away from academics is often promoted, especially in developing nations where the most certain way to make money is supposed to be academics conventionally.
A child’s success in society is usually quantified based on their academic performance in today’s world. A child scoring good marks is considered high on intellect, which in reality might not be the actual case all the time. On the other end of the thread, children who grow passionate about their respective extracurricular activities and are inclined towards pursuing them are regarded as “bad students” or “unfocused.” This social taboo greatly demoralises children about following their dreams in sports or artistic fields.
Schools and parents often live in fear that involvement in extracurriculars might divert focus from core subjects, impacting grades and future prospects. Additionally, limited resources and time constraints posed by academic pressures can make it challenging for a student to offer attention to a diverse array of activities, leading to a strictly prohibited prioritisation of academics. Concerns about safety, scheduling conflicts, and transportation logistics further deter participation. And finally, the socio-economic disparities also hinder access to extracurriculars, creating an unequal playing field. Addressing these barriers requires a shift in mindset, recognising that such activities complement academic growth, foster well-rounded development, and equip children with vital life skills.
Qualities that a child imbibes through extracurricular activities
Once the parents, teachers and society start to understand the importance of extracurricular activities and sports in a child’s life and growth, all the major constraints stopping them from experiencing them will be lifted for good. Even though academic education plays a great role in shaping a child’s mind for the better, it should be understood that solely focusing on academics brings no good for a child. There have been many cases where children score great academic marks, topping the class all their school lives. However, when encountering a critical problem, they often need more basic human intelligence and interpersonal skills.
Even in today’s economics and tech-driven world, a businessman or an engineer cannot become successful without good communication skills, creativity, sportsmanship, humility, leadership qualities, confidence, good physical and mental fitness, etc., all of the skills that a child could easily & naturally obtain by playing any group sports or indulging into an art form like dance, music or painting. Beyond personal growth, extracurriculars cultivate a holistic perspective, fostering empathy and social awareness through community service and cultural exploration. Engaging in diverse activities broadens horizons, enabling children to explore interests beyond academics and aiding in well-rounded development. The competitive world demands individuals who can navigate challenges with versatility and exhibit a range of skills.
Good intellect should be clubbed with a good personality, and only then can a person really become successful in life and have a differentiating factor in his character. The misfortune is that there are many ninety percentiles and PhD holders but rarely any leaders and reformers in our society. By focusing solely on anemics, a person loses her individuality, which leads to a gap in society that needs to be filled by people of a creative mindset who can look at the existing chains with different lenses and find areas of improvement and not just be a machine in a factory assembly line.
These engagements cultivate teamwork, leadership, and time management skills, fostering resilience and adaptability. Participation in team sports nurtures collaboration, instills discipline, and teaches how to handle wins and losses gracefully. Creative pursuits enhance problem-solving abilities and encourage innovative thinking. Moreover, these activities nurture self-confidence, public speaking, and communication skills, which are crucial in professional settings.
Extracurricular involvements and sports provide the experiential learning ground necessary for honing these qualities, equipping children to excel in their careers and contribute positively to society.
How educational institutes and parents can foster an environment of child personality growth
It is crucial for this world that children should grow up to become leaders, reformers and true intellectuals. And it is clear by now that to make a person grow up into these, focusing only on academics would be a void option. Hence, schools, parents and local governments at large should take the initiative to motivate children to explore their true potential apart from academics so that they can experience holistic growth, which will be good for the world in the future.
For schools, it is essential to make children aware of the importance of extracurricular activities and educate their parents about the same. Ideally, the appeal and initiative should come from the schools’ side as they are responsible for a child’s professional growth, and parents may also listen to schools’ feedback carefully, in fact, more than they might listen to anyone else. Schools should enhance their facilities so that students can learn about these activities and should have regular competitions of the same that will foster a sense of competition as well.
Schools should make sure that the child feels as important and proud of his achievement in extracurricular activities as he is made to feel for his academic performance. For this, schools should have their own custom awards and trophies and appealing presentation cups trophies. It should be noted that an appealing look of a prize for any art form and good looking and good quality sports trophies will also attract more children to participate.
Local Governments can have an upper hand as they can influence many people at large. Therefore, governments should introduce more schemes and programmes to promote children’s participation in extracurricular activities. The government should subsidise schools to provide better facilities to children and give children from poor financial backgrounds a sponsorship so that every child is included. Governments should also carry out awareness campaigns for parents and assure them that indulging in other activities is healthy for their children.
Extracurricular activities play a pivotal role in a child’s holistic growth, extending beyond the classroom. Schools, parents, and local governments are integral in fostering this development. In this collaborative journey, schools, parents, and local governments have the unique opportunity to shape a generation of well-rounded, confident, and capable individuals.
There is a need for a shift in the mindset of our society, and that shift can come only with collective effort. The potential of a child who has played games indulged in creative pursuits, and a balance of studies is just immense. In fact, such a person would be needed everywhere. Any MNC or any organisation would want such a holistic personality rather than a geeky scholar with a half-cooked personality. The role of extracurricular activities in a child’s holistic growth cannot be overstated.
These activities serve as a powerful avenue for nurturing brilliance beyond the classroom. As we’ve explored, schools, parents, and local governments each have a vital part to play in fostering a culture of active participation and skill development.
By offering diverse extracurricular options, schools open doors for students to explore their passions and talents. Inclusive policies ensure that every child can benefit from these enriching experiences regardless of their background. The integration of extracurricular elements into the curriculum bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, fostering a deeper understanding of subjects.