With the school year under way, there are going to be many opportunities for your kids to get involved in extracurricular activities, and it’s important to encourage them. Getting kids involved can help keep them connected, active and learn new lifelong skills.
1. Staying connected. Getting involved in an activity — whether sports, drama, music, faith, academics, etc. — can encourage kids to connect with their school or church environment, their peers and the adult figures in their life. When kids feel this connection, it can prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness, and it can give them somewhere to turn when they need support and encouragement. It also gives kids a chance to meet new people and practice being a good friend, teammate, etc. Finally, it holds kids accountable to someone other than themselves, and can be a form of positive peer pressure. Kids want to feel a sense of belonging, both in their personal and school life. Extracurricular activities are a great way to help this happen.
2. Staying active. Being involved in activities can help kids stay active, both physically and mentally. It can help prevent boredom that sometimes leads to getting in trouble. The key is to have a healthy balance so kids aren’t trying to do too much. We don’t want to sacrifice sleep, healthy eating habits or academic success in order to participate. At the same time, we want to encourage our kids to try different types of activities to find out where their interests lie. If they enjoy what they’re doing, they’re more likely to be successful at it and more likely to keep doing it.
3. Learning new skills. When our kids get involved in activities, they’re going to learn a variety of life skills — such as the importance of keeping a commitment — that will help them as they get older. Teach kids to gather all the information up front and know what is involved before committing to an activity. Don’t agree to do something if you can’t meet the expectations. Once you commit to an activity, give it your best and do what is expected of you. Finally, teach kids to communicate if they can’t keep a commitment and ask what they can do to make up for it. There may be natural consequences in place if kids don’t show up for an activity or you can implement a consequence at home to reinforce keeping their commitments. On the flip side of that, positively reinforce your kids if they do complete an activity successfully. Extracurricular activities teach many other life skills as well, such as working on a team, managing responsibilities and dealing with frustrations or failures.
Extracurricular activities are a great way for our kids to learn a variety of life skills that will set them up for success later on. For more information, visit www.boystown.org.
Jennifer Simpson joined Boys Town in 2013 as a Family Teacher working with teenage boys and began working for the Intervention and Assessment homes in 2016 as an Intake and Compliance Specialist. In her current position Jennifer assesses youth referrals from different agencies regarding placement in the I&A homes, as well as provides resource information to consumers in need of services. Jennifer is also the mother of two young children and has a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master’s in Business Administration.