Kids’ extracurricular activities allow children to pursue special interests beyond school. They’re complementary to academic development and offer life enrichment outside the home and classroom.
Here’s our list of extracurricular activities for kids with different aptitudes and interests, as well as tips on how to help your kids choose something they’ll enjoy.
8 Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
Why are extracurricular activities important for kids? They develop social skills, improve self-esteem, and are excellent for mental, physical, and emotional growth. Not all kids are high-performing academics, nor do they need to be. For these children, in particular, the benefits of afterschool programs are extremely important and often reveal latent talents.
Here’s why Hot Ground Gym supports constructive after-school play
#1. Social Skills
Child extracurricular activities increase positive social behavior. Team sports, for instance, encourage cohesion and social support. When kids are “forced” to participate in team activities, they’re introduced to new perspectives and develop team-building skills necessary to work with and understand others.
Sociability, punctuality, conscientiousness, and the ability to get along with others are early predictors of higher educational achievement later in life. Participating in extracurricular activities for children gives them a chance to meet new friends and become confident with communicating in groups.
#2. Skills Development
The benefits of afterschool activities for kids are not only physical. Kids' extracurricular activities might be the basis of a hobby or passion that enriches your child’s life. Anything from playing sports to learning an instrument or taking part in a drama class could lead to many hours of doing something they enjoy throughout their lives.
Students involved in extracurricular activities tend to demonstrate higher academic and social achievement, including greater life satisfaction. What they do after school may also point towards a future career path and develop the skills and competencies needed to pursue it.
#3. Physical Activity
When considering extracurricular school activities and the benefits children can get from them, physical activity is a major selling point. Executive function and health of the brain underlie life success. Physical exercise enhances cognitive functioning related to attention and learning. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that kids ages six and up get at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity.
Routine exercise improves cardiorespiratory fitness, builds strong bones and muscles, and alleviates stress and anxiety. Children who develop exercise habits growing up tend to make them a priority as adults, maintaining healthier lifestyles.
#4. Time Management Skills
One of the benefits of extracurricular activities for kids is that participating in extracurricular activities forces kids to prioritize their schedules, and thus teaches them time management. Through balancing school homework with after school-obligations, kids learn to accomplish tasks within a set timeframe.
Individuals who master time management feel more fulfilled because they live up to their expectations, which bolsters confidence. When kids understand how much they can achieve within a timeframe, they develop realistic and achievable goals.
#5. Personal and Social Growth Through Team Activities
There are two main types of after-school team activities and each provides a different range of benefits of extracurricular activities in school.
The first aspect is the traditional sports route. Where a young person becomes part of a team and practices throughout the week for an event such as a match, scrimmage, or game. This competitive element can be very rewarding in the sense of accomplishing the goal of putting the hard work that was practiced into effect during their game or event. At the same time, this competitive element can also be discouraging to some young people.
The other type of after-school team activity is similar to what we do at Hot Ground Gym®. We call these activities missions. Young individuals work together in a group utilizing trust, determination, and communication to accomplish a task for completion or for time. At the end of each week, there is a new mission to accomplish so there is a larger range of variety when it comes to team-building activities. The main idea is whichever route that is chosen, having your young one participate in a team experience is beneficial for the child both personally and socially.
#6. Reduction of Problematic Behaviors
Programs taking place during non-school hours have been shown to help reduce and/or alleviate problematic behaviors such as aggression, noncompliance, and “respect problems”. Keeping a young person engaged in a positive atmosphere is crucial as their young minds develop. The ability to have other positive role models outside of their family can show a united front between the activity and the family, and hold a child accountable for positive behavior inside and out of their household. More specifically, teenage extracurricular activities act as a bridge in improving feelings towards school bonding (positive feelings and attitudes toward school), positive social behaviors, school grades, and achievements.
We at Hot Ground Gym try to be that “Fun Uncle or Aunt'' you may have grown up with, in reference to our approach with the children. We try to be a positive role model in a young person’s life to help guide and teach them life skills crucial for their development. These types of environments can really help alleviate any and all types of problematic behaviors.
#7. Helping Hand to the Working Parent
Engagement during after-school hours has many positive benefits not only for young people but for their families as well. There is strong public support for after-school programs, particularly from working parents who cannot be with their children immediately after school or during times when there is no school and families have to be at work. Having somewhere for a young person to go when school is over or school is not in session can be very hard to manage for any work schedule. These after-school programs can bridge the gap between hard schedules and keeping an engaging atmosphere.
#8. Can Relieve Stress and Expel Extra Energy
A great way to relieve stress and expel extra energy that may have been pent up throughout the school day is through after-school programs. Finding a healthy way to redirect that energy can lead to better behavior and a young person who is happier because they have an outlet in which to channel their enthusiasm. That being said, when that outlet doesn’t exist that energy keeps building and can be involuntarily released at any time in the form of negatively viewed behavior. If you find your child bursting with energy when they come home from school, consider enrolling in an after-school activity.
Types of Extracurricular Activities for Kids
In the aftermath of the pandemic, children need a healthy support system, rich in socialization and play, as well as physical and cognitive development. The below activities can help them grow into well-rounded individuals.
Sports are the most common children’s extracurricular activities offered at schools. School sports like swimming, football, tennis, basketball, and cheerleading are easy and convenient options for your kids.
If your child doesn’t thrive in mainstream sports, you might introduce them to rock climbing, dance classes, BMX biking, skateboarding, running, obstacle-course classes, or martial arts. Today, there are so many options to ensure your kid gets a healthy dose of physical activity.
For over 100 years, Boy, and Girl Scout troops have encouraged young kids to take a constructive place in society as responsible citizens by teaching them important life skills. Kids earn badges as they master basic outdoor survival skills like camping and moving up the ranks.
Scouting groups suit adventurous kids who enjoy nature and like trying different activities. Today’s organization, known as Scouts BSA welcomes girls and boys to develop their leadership and life skills, so they can serve others and their communities.
Performing & Visual Arts and Music
Kids who don’t excel at sports are more artistically inclined. Most schools put on plays and musical concerts which your kid can audition for. Performing arts and music build self-confidence and improve communication skills and memory.
For serious young artists, there are theater, art, and music schools that offer kid extracurricular activities like painting, musical theater, acting, band practice, dancing, and more. Arts programs are really fun and contribute to a child's emotional and creative development.
Academic Clubs and STEM Programs
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs are ideal for mathematically-minded kids. If your child likes building things or has shown an interest or aptitude for robotics, coding, or video game development, then they’re sure to thrive in extracurricular STEM programs.
STEM programs are also a convenient choice to keep kids busy, as some are available online. 90% of future jobs require digital skills, which coding falls under. So, enrolling kids in STEM programs can also lay an important foundation for their careers down the line.
Student Government and Media
Your kids’ school probably has a student newspaper, literary magazine, or media society they can join. This type of extracurricular activity bodes well for the CVs of kids who are interested in pursuing media careers. So do leadership positions on student councils.
If your child has shown interest in politics, then you might help them explore student government groups at their school. Because student leadership positions tend to be competitive, you might also look at other types of neighborhood organizations like caring for senior citizens, policing, or environmental groups.
Tips for Helping Children Choose Extracurricular Activities
Choosing an extracurricular activity is not the same as tertiary education. It should be a fun experience for your kids to explore their interests and passions. Below are some tips regarding children’s extracurricular activities:
- Communicate: What you and your child think is best for them may not be the same thing. Don’t force your dreams on them. Rather, find out what they want to do and let me decide which activities they would like to try out.
- Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses: Ideally, the activity they select should amplify their strengths and refiner their weaknesses.
- Decide on the aim: Do you want your kid to make new friends, get fit, pursue a hobby, or grow their confidence?
- Make sure the extracurricular activity works with their schedule: Before committing to an extracurricular activity, make sure that the time commitment is compatible with your child’s other time commitments (school, club, sports, etc.) but also leave enough room for proper sleep, socialization and homework to avoid burnout.
- Start with a trial class: Many organizations offer a free trial class before you sign up so you and your child can check if the activity matches their expectations and if you are comfortable with the facilities and teaching philosophy.
- Choose an age-appropriate activity: Children change rapidly, both physically and developmentally, so make sure that the activity they choose is in line with their ability. An activity that is too advanced may leave them feeling discouraged while another which is not challenging enough will be boring.
Where Can I Find Extracurricular Activities in Arlington Heights and Libertyville?
Hot Ground Gym weekly classes are perfect for kids who enjoy obstacle courses and working in teams. Our kids' extracurricular activities are suitable for young ones aged 5 years old and up. Located in Libertyville and Arlington Heights, we offer loads of weekly fun, fitness, and learning, whether it is summer or winter! Contact us and claim your kid's free class now!