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The fact that every school in the UK gives its students the chance to engage in extracurricular activities demonstrates their importance and contribution to education that has lasted for more than a century. Namely, both educational institutions and parents are aware that the effect of extracurricular activities on children is generally positive, and that it helps them develop socially and grow up in a healthy way. In this regard, there is a significant number of researches that corroborate the statement that extracurricular activities have a beneficial effect on the development of a healthy social behavior, as well as on accomplishing better academic results.
Owing to many scientific and research papers in social and psychological areas conducted in the past ten years, this article will present tangible data/results which point out to the significance of participating in extracurricular activities as regards the social behavior, as well as enhancing the generally greater academic achievements.
Behavioural problems are regulated
Prior to entering the school classrooms, children carry with them values and behaviours they inherited genetically or adopted within their family or environment. Bearing that in mind, many students enter an educational institution with a certain behavior that may indicate some internal (psychological/psychiatric) or external (socialising) problems. Namely, research was conducted on middle and high school students, which showed a decreasing rate of external behavioural problems in adolescents who took part in religious extracurricular activities, and a link was also made between being included in sports activities and a reduced probability of reporting internal behavioural problems – psychological/psychiatric troubles. With that in mind, one may conclude that group extracurricular activities perform an essential role in socialising and regulating students’ behavior, which bears witness to the paradigm that a man is primarily a social being – zoon politicon, and then also an individual who autonomously possesses their own thoughts and ideas.
Mental and emotional well-being is boosted
A man’s self-image and his interaction with people within a society are frequently connected. For instance, low levels of self-respect and self-esteem are often manifested through a student’s inability to socialise adequately, which leads to emotional distress. Research conducted by Hilary Bugay shows that taking part in creative extracurricular activities brings about positive changes in behaviour and improves the levels of self-esteem and self-respect.
When it comes to creative extracurricular activities, the most prominent ones are Performing and Visual Arts, and the reason is that during these activities students expose themselves or their work to an evaluating audience. By taking this approach, students become mentally and emotionally stronger due to their exposure to various comments which may vary from positive to negative, but at the same time they receive support from their friends, which helps reduce the probability of feeling socially isolated.
Involvement and presence at school are increased
Physical attendance in class, as well as being involved, are factors that contribute significantly to academic achievements at the end of the year. A common sense assumption would be that students who spend a large part of their free time doing extracurricular activities have to reduce their involvement and presence at school because they would lack time and energy for studying. However, many studies contradict this assumption and indicate the existence of a positive correlation between participating in extracurricular activities and a growing likelihood of involvement and presence at school.
Namely, students who engage and succeed in activities that make them feel fulfilled show a greater level of involvement in class, thus sending positive signals to teachers who evaluate their work and give them a final grade in the end. Furthermore, one study suggests that students who are involved in extracurricular activities not only enjoy classes more, but also have fewer absences in school compared to other students.
High school dropout rate is reduced
Children who come from low-status and problematic families often have troubles with the level of participation in class and with giving up high school education. However, research by Bradley and Conway indicates that students who were involved in Fine Arts extracurricular activities were 20% less likely to drop out, while the ones who were engaged in sports activities were 70% less likely to do so. Therefore, by taking part in extracurricular activities that satisfy the inherent need for constant search (homo viator) and play (homo ludens) in students, which are most often extinguished by classical teaching, one may induce a willing moment which surpasses all obstacles that lead to discouragement in believing how significant and necessary education is.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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