How can Extra-curricular Classes be Good?

Updated: Mar 20

October 11, 2018 / Parent & Child

When it concerns extra-curricular activities, there are often 2 schools of thought.

Some feel it is not necessary and does more harm than good. An article written by Olivia Goldhill, claims that Psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from discovering what truly interests them. Lyn Fry, a Child Psychologist in London, claims that if parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to take their place in society themselves. In 1993, Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote that the capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.”Boredom is a chance to contemplate life, rather than rushing through it”, he said in his book titled “On kissing, tickling, and being bored”. Some believe that if you are sending your child to extra-curricular classes after school to kill his boredom, then you are wrong, as “boredom is crucial for developing internal stimulus”, hindering true creativity. Others feel that extra-curricular activities are pointless as 4-5 year olds are too young to understand the complexities of a dance form or to gasp the subtle meaning of painting and have short attention span of 5 minutes. Parents are simply jumping on the bandwagon to follow (blindly) the trend of the latest popular extra-curricular activities.

The above views are based on several assumptions which are flawed:

Assumption: Having extra-curricular activities mean that the child’s schedule is maxed out (i.e. over-scheduling)

Fact: This is not always the case. It depends on how the parent plans the child’s schedule and balances it with free-play, free time and rest.

Assumption: The child is forced/pressured to attend the extra-curricular classes which are not of his/her true interest.

Fact: How will the child know that the activity is not his/her interest if he/she does not have the opportunity to even give it a try? Also, children nowadays are intelligent and vocal. They will tell you what they want. We do not force our children to attend any extra-curricular class if he/she is not interested in it and does not enjoy it at all.

Assumption: Parents are jumping on bandwagon to follow the crowd on most-talked about activity in town.

Fact: We will usually do research first and assess if it is something we would like our child to try/learn. We will also weigh the benefits of these classes and prioritize the child’s preference and ability.

Assumption: 4 Year Olds aren’t ready for it; they are too young to understand and can’t sit still for even 5 mins.

Fact: If a child can sit still for much longer than 5 minutes in front of a TV/iPad, why is it not possible for him/her to sit still for the same duration in an extra-curricular class? They can sit still and focus for more than 5 minutes if their inquisitive minds are stimulated and are engrossed because they enjoy the learning process. Do not belittle these 4 year Olds as they have the intelligence and mental capacity to absorb new learnings.

Assumption: The child is not given opportunity to be bored, i.e. play freely, run amok & roll in the mud.

Fact: The child can enjoy both extra-curricular activities as well as free-play as long as there is a balance.

Contrary to above claims, we believe in the 7 benefits of extra-curricular activities:

1. Character Building – Discipline, focus, dedication

2. Broadens their horizon – Through exposure to various Arts, Languages, Sports, etc.

3. Social Skills – Learning to work with others, to be good team mates, gracious in defeat and humble in success

4. Understand true meaning of Success – Only possible with consistent efforts over time. Dealing with disappointment; but still try one’s best. Learn to make and accomplish Goals.

5. To Achieve different Milestones – Which we celebrate for them, every mini one.

6. Better alternative to Screen-time – Because truth be told, sometimes we parents do resort to using TV/iPad to keep our children entertained.

7. To Reap the Benefits of learning music, language, art, etc, in the early years (backed by substantial research) in relation to motor skills and brain development, self-esteem, cognitive and memory skills.

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