The aim of education is not just about academic attainment or whether a student is achieving exemplary test scores; it is in fact about developing an all-rounded student in all aspects. This includes the student’s intellectual, social, physical and moral capabilities, and it is important that your child strikes a balance in all these aspects.
There is often pressure on students, especially in secondary schools, to perform well in their exams and attain high grades. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, and students should be encouraged to perform their best, it does become a problem when students have limited opportunity to socialise outside of school or develop their skills in other areas such as, sports, music, etc.
Many international students can experience “culture shock” when they first arrive in their new country of study. Getting involved in co-curricular activities (CCAs) can help students overcome this phase and give them the space to understand the culture of their new country in a way that the typical classroom environment may not provide, whilst also allowing them to develop new friendships.
Some parents/guardians may feel that after school activities distract children from their studies, or cause them to be home late. Some students also feel that they do not need the activities, all they need is to concentrate on their academics. However, there are many benefits to being involved in an CCA, including benefits to a student’s health and wellbeing.
Benefits of CCAs:
Improved academic performance: Studies have shown that students who participate in CCAs have a marked improvement in their grades. Children learn very important skills such as better time management to accommodate their hobbies and activities, better organizational skills and a boost in their self-esteem. Certain skills learnt in clubs such as debate can also be applied in the classroom too, as the students learn how to express themselves better, which in turn builds their confidence.
Develop organisational skills: Although it can be a challenge for parents where there is more than one child involved in a CCA in the family, just by attending one main activity a week your child will begin to develop better organisational skills. They learn how to plan out their day to include study time and activity time and are thus less likely to procrastinate.
Learn important life skills: Students learn skills such as teamwork, better social skills, and critical thinking. It is known that students who participate in CCAs are also likely to develop better leadership skills and learn how to relate better with their peers than those who don’t. In an international school community where sometimes families move frequently, belonging to a CCA will enable the student transfer their skills and talents to the next school or country they move to.
Develop a sense of commitment and responsibility: Students who participate in CCAs have a sense of commitment to whatever they are involved in. This is because they have to commit to it and give their all, and this commitment extends to all other areas of their lives. It will also foster a sense of accountability and responsibility in them.
New friends: This is important, especially when home is not in the same area of the school and when students don’t live in the same area as their friends, which is often the case in this region. CCAs provide an opportunity for students to interact with those of different or similar interests or cultural backgrounds, and they may even learn a thing or two from them. They also get a different point of view on things as the new friends they make may see life differently.
Exposure to further opportunities: For secondary school students, engaging in CCAs can boost their chances of gaining admission into certain universities. Most universities nowadays check what the student offers apart from their academics, and that is where CCAs come in.
At the British International School Abu Dhabi, we are fortunate to have an array of activities on offer. Feel free to speak to your child’s class teacher or arrange to speak with a member of the sports department. It’s important that you don’t pressure your child into doing an activity they are not interested in, and be mindful of the number of CCAs your child is involved in at school or outside of school as too much isn’t a good thing. Check on your child regularly to find out whether their interests have changed and what you can do to support them if it’s all having a negative impact on their wellbeing.
BIS Abu Dhabi Counselling Team
If you have questions about the above, please speak to your child’s class teacher or you can contact the school counsellors at firstname.lastname@example.org