Extracurricular activities are great for kids of all ages. They allow kids to be introduced to and practice much needed social skills in a safe environment. Their involvement helps their self-esteem and leads to improvements in other areas of their lives.
Taking part in after-school or club activities gives them social skills such as working with others, accepting feedback and being responsible for one's actions, and these skills often transfer to other areas of life. This will be helpful not only during their schooling, but also during adulthood no matter what path they choose.
During practices and meetings, youth who may be missing skills such as time management and positive peer interactions are asked to be on time and commit to a group and trust individuals. They are building positive relationships within a safe place. They are also asked to give feedback to help others get better. On a team or in a group such as chess club or band, young people are put in a position to take risks and learn new skills and habits. These positive risk-taking opportunities replace the negative choices often available to those not involved in a structured activity.
Many at-risk individuals have low self-esteem and seek positive reinforcement. Sports and structured programs are positive attention-seeking activities. Taking part in track, soccer, basketball, the spring play or cross country will include positive messages and feedback from teams, coaches and sponsors, and help promote positive self-talk. Youth maybe hesitant at first with a fear of failure, and find little success until they let their guard down and begin to trust themselves, their teammates and coaches.
We teach skills at school and in the homes. A safe place to practice these skills in a safe, realistic setting is on a stage, on a court, in a field or in a group. Coaches, teams, sponsors and fans give kids the support they need to grow socially and athletically.
Extracurricular activities are a great way for all children to gain important skills and become successful adults. You can get more information about the benefits of athletics and other after school activities by visiting www.boystown.org/parenting.
Angee (Henry) Nott is a former University of Nebraska track athlete who was a three-time Big 12 champion and a 10-time All-American. She was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. She has coached track and cross country at Boys Town High School since 2004, where she is also an English teacher. She continues to empower her students to reach their potential on the track and in the classroom.