After school activities, aside from teaching our children new skills, are an important part of their development. Some would argue participation in clubs and activities is just as important as academics.
Taking part in sports, music or other activities outside of the classroom helps children develop interests, discover a lifelong hobby or even future career, develop their individual personality, cut down on stress and boost academic and social skills.
Studies have shown that kids involved in extracurricular activities have improved grades but also develop skills and habits that will help them succeed academically, even if their chosen activity is not directly related to classroom learning.
It has been said that Einstein would often play music when he was stuck on a mathematical problem – the idea being that by concentrating on the math problem, which uses the left side of the brain, while playing music, using the right side of the brain, he was able to strengthen the communication between the two hemispheres of his brain and increase brainpower.
In fact, music is basically math - counting, rhythm, scales, intervals, patterns, etc. – so it makes sense that students who learn how to play music will boost their understanding, and grades, in mathematics. The same is true with many activities and classroom subjects.
Extracurricular activities also have an impact much broader than specific skills learned that apply to the classroom
Students who take part in activities often develop important life skills that will help them in the classroom, in social situations, and in their careers. Leadership, working as a team, problem solving, and patience are just a few of the life skills kids can learn on a sports field, in a band or on a technology team.
Taking part in these activities will also boost a child’s confidence as they master a new skill and excel in an activity. Having the confidence of mastering drawing, swimming, or piano allows kids to know they can also master math, literacy and science.
As kids explore new activities, meet new people and master new skills and concepts they also develop a sense of their own character and how they fit into social situations, learn about the sharing of ideas and collaboration, as well as supporting their peers. As kids explore their abilities and learn new things they’re also building independence and a life-long habit of being involved in activities, hobbies and the community.
The importance of activities for kids must be balanced however. It is possible to enroll our kids in too many activities that will wreak havoc on time management, cause stress for the kids, and eliminate any time to just play and be a kid. Down time is important too.
The importance of clubs and activities in a child’s life, and academic success, is why clubs play a prominent role in life on campus at Robert Land Academy.
Now that the students are settled in, classes are underway and everyone is back into the rhythm of life on campus, our clubs and activities have started up again as well. We don’t do traditional “after-school” activities. Instead we turn Wednesdays into club day, where students don’t attend regular classes but participate in their chosen clubs and activities. Lunch is also different on this day as students will eat lunch with their section and section teacher (a faculty member who supports each student in their section with advice and feedback on how the students are doing).
The boys will showcase the results of their work in clubs over the year at our Annual Open House and Inspection in the spring, where families, local community leaders and the public are invited to see boys’ displays explaining various clubs and classes and showcasing their successes.
I know our staff enjoy teaching our various clubs as much as the boys enjoy learning new skills or simply taking part in a pastime they enjoy. In fact the interests of the students and the hobbies or interests of our faculty are what drive which clubs and activities we offer, allowing RLA to offer a broad selection of clubs that keeps our students’ interest piqued while allowing our faculty to enjoy their own passions and interests while at work.
At RLA we offer everything from music, photography and basketball to climbing, boxing and automotive restoration. The restoration of our 1972 Volkswagon Beatle has been a multi-year project – talk about teaching kids the major life skill of patience!
I’m looking forward to seeing what changes that old bug undergoes this year, as well as what the students will accomplish in our other clubs and activities.