Once you’ve chosen an activity with your kids, experts advise keeping it for at least two quarters to learn the value of engagement and give new environments a chance
We have already started the course and, like every year, we already have a full agenda. Ours and our little ones. Because to the school hours fathers and mothers usually add some extracurricular activities. A. two. Three. Four? Of course, good intentions help us adults, but be careful, you already know the saying: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. More than 90% of Spanish compulsory education students (aged six to sixteen) do some extracurricular activity, while just over half attend extracurricular classes two or more times a week, according to data from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. Are we exaggerating? Will these extracurriculars really serve our children in the future? Through them they can improve their future work. The reason is that extracurricular activities play an important role in the development of boys and girls, because they help them discover interests and potential, while favoring their autonomy, their self-esteem and the maximum development of their abilities. “They can complete and promote the learning and development of boys and girls, in addition to contributing to the formation of unique people with a differentiated learning profile that favors their future social and labor inclusion,” says Sylvie Pérez, Professor of Research in Psychology and Educational Sciences of the Open University of Catalonia. So that means yes. If the school offers as a result students with common knowledge and similar skills, it is the extracurricular activities that make the difference in many cases and make their “resume” unique, different, an attractive factor for many companies.
That in the future (it’s hard to imagine our little ones making the leap into the world of work, but of course they will). But extracurricular activities, in addition to being a long-term investment, are already useful in the present for our sons and daughters. When the extracurricular activities that take place are to the taste of boys and girls, they create positive experiences and help build their self-esteem. “This fosters good social-affective development, which is essential for their social and working futures.” In addition, they are a new socializing environment and in this sense they are essential to be able to learn to identify and manage emotions, to learn with other adult role models, to create friendships other than those at school and high school, etc. Likewise, they provide them with knowledge and skills that may not be worked on in depth in the regulated education system,” adds Jordi Perales, lecturer for the UOC’s MA in Learning Difficulties and Language Disorders. That is, in addition to learning things different from those of formal education, they also learn to function in different environments.
Not on simple school reinforcements
However, in order for extracurricular activities to provide the full list of benefits, experts believe it is important to keep in mind that this is not necessarily a time. Therefore, they should be a space where boys and girls can develop skills they think they would like or find an environment where they feel comfortable, accepted and happy. as emphasized by the UOC. “We need to stay away from activities that are just school reinforcements. If a boy or girl doesn’t like a certain area, what makes us think they’ll like the same area in an extracurricular school? Students already spend many hours in school; after school classes should be the ones they enjoy the most. Of course, it should be clear that an extracurricular activity cannot become something without criteria or rigor,” explains Perales. The expert adds that it’s not just about “compensating” for what the school can’t offer, but about allowing the child to devote his time to activities he likes.
Therefore, choosing extracurricular activities should take time and be a shared decision between parents and children. That is why one of the first recommendations of experts is for parents to simply observe their child to see what interests he has. Among the possible options, the UOC teacher highlights the study of English, French or another language, as long as the boy or girl likes this activity and does not represent an additional difficulty to the tasks and learning they are already doing at school. . Music, dance, and artistic activities (such as painting or crafts) are also good options, as are any age-appropriate sports. Once an extracurricular activity is chosen with the kids, experts advise keeping it for at least two quarters to learn the value of commitment and give new environments a chance. However, you also need to be flexible “and allow these activities to serve as a rehearsal, so that boys and girls can try what they like, what they are good at…” says Sylvie Perez.
How many afternoons do they have to “take up”?
As for the amount of time that should be allocated weekly to these activities, the ideal is not to overload the little ones’ “schedule” by taking up all their afternoons with extracurricular activities. As Jordi Perales explains, too much time is considered “if the boy or girl is not allowed to rest, play and even be bored from time to time”. “Too many times there are families who have no choice but to enroll their children in after school activities so that someone can look after them. But in these cases, part of the educational nature of these activities is lost and they end up becoming just “babysitters”. The boy or girl should be with his family as long as possible, although it is true that the problems of family reconciliation arise in connection with the work of the parents”, the UOC professor points out. Although it depends on each student’s circumstances, such as orientation, Sylvie Pérez advises a maximum of three afternoons a week occupied with extracurricular activities. In addition, it is necessary to avoid cramming different after-school activities into the same afternoon.