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The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities

Written by: Wilson College   •  May 6, 2024
Extracurricular Activities

The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are a great way to give kids an outlet outside of school that may also help them in the future. From improving social skills to improving physical health, extracurriculars can be beneficial, educational, and fun. Both teachers and parents should help students find the best activities for themselves. 

To learn more, check out the infographic below, created by Wilson College Online’s education degree programs.

The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities

Types of Extracurriculars

Extracurricular activities have two defining attributes: They demonstrate a talent, or they provide value to the individual and other people. These attributes anchor the benefits of extracurricular activities that make them worthwhile.


Academic extracurriculars provide opportunities for intellectually curious kids. These opportunities include clubs such as chess, debate, model U.N. simulations, and student government. Academic clubs can also link to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. These clubs include robotics, coaching, engineering, and the science bowl.


Skills clubs help students build physical and practical skills. Traditional clubs in this category include scouting, visual arts, and music. Student media opportunities can also fall into this category.


Social clubs help kids build a sense of community and boost their social development. These clubs include sports, performing arts, and community service groups. Affinity groups are also considered social clubs, as they allow students with similar identities to build their own community.

Why Extracurriculars Are Important

Extracurriculars can help kids build positive habits, find new interests, and learn time management.

College Applications

Students planning to apply to college need to stand out from the crowd. Extracurriculars show colleges a student’s personality and skills. Students also shine when they show interest in learning new skills, building social skills, and exploring the world around them, all of which can occur through extracurricular activities. 

Colleges look for specific activities for prospective students to help them determine new student enrollment. These activities include school-sponsored activities, community service, independent skills, and work experience. Extracurriculars can help potentially put these activities front and center.

Building Skills and Teams

Students who participate in extracurriculars develop time management skills, responsibility, and discipline, all important traits in the workforce. Because students can choose their own extracurriculars, they can explore programs that explore their interests, build skills and talents in areas they care about, and make friends with students who share their interests.

Health Benefits

The health-related benefits of extracurricular activities are manifold. These programs can encourage more physical activity, lead to improved mental health, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and build positive habits. 

In fact, a 2023 study by the Afterschool Alliance found that students who participate in extracurricular activities at least two days a week are 18% less likely to drink alcohol, 39% less likely to smoke marijuana, and 28% less likely to miss school without a reason. Additionally, Afterschool Alliance notes that extracurriculars help today’s tech-savvy teens spend time away from the screen, reporting that 81% of program providers agree that extracurriculars provide off-screen opportunities for social and emotional growth. What’s more, 89% of parents agree that extracurricular activities support kids’ emotional and social well-being.

Supporting Students

Most extracurricular activities happen after school, so students may feel overwhelmed or overbusy. Teachers and parents can help children find a balance and stay healthy. 

How Parents Can Help Their Children

A key practice for parents to assist their kids is to have a clear schedule. This involves ensuring that they’re on the same page as their kids; creating a reliable schedule that keeps everyone abreast of what’s happening; and having a color-coded family schedule, so everyone can be aware of the extracurricular workload.

Another helpful activity is to set aside family time, which is good for both children and parents. Scheduling about an hour a week of family time lets everyone relax together and check in on one another. Plus, scheduling this time helps children pursue an interest free from responsibility, boundaries, and requirements.

Finally, parents must celebrate their kids. Every child is different, so some kids may feel out of place or too different from their peers. Parents can celebrate a child’s specific skills, talents, and personality to boost their child’s confidence. Plus, this celebration can help foster a specific interest within a child; this can be more beneficial than having them minimally involved with several groups.

How Teachers Can Help Their Children

Teachers must know the school and how it can best support the kids in attendance. For example, teachers can help students pursue their interests and develop skills outside of the classroom. Teachers who know the school also know what programs the school offers, enabling them to suggest activities, clubs, and subjects to students who would benefit from them. Plus, if a student asks a teacher about activities outside of the classroom, they may feel encouraged when a teacher shows support for their initiative.

Teachers can also lead extracurricular groups. A great way to do this is to start a new club, service group,  or academic organization if enough students show interest. Plus, schools may not have a specific extracurricular because no teacher is willing to sponsor it. Additionally, this practice provides students with a connection to a willing faculty or a chance to talk to the administration; this can validate the student’s interests and open pathways to fulfillment.

Finally, a teacher who attends events can inspire students to look up to them and make them want to make the teacher proud. Plus, a teacher who does this routinely demonstrates to students that their interests and time are being appreciated.

Building Strength Beyond the Classroom

Learning and social development don’t just happen during school hours. Students have interests beyond required classes, so giving them the opportunity to explore and grow is important. Academic clubs, sports, skills training, and socializing all help with childhood development and health. They also help students look toward the future and stand out to colleges. Extracurriculars definitely benefit students, as long as they’re still allowed to be kids.


Afterschool Alliance, Afterschool Supports Children’s Well-Being and Healthy Development

Afterschool Alliance, Thriving in Afterschool: Promoting Healthy Futures for Young People

BigFuture, Extracurriculars Matter — To You and To Colleges

Children’s Hospital of Orange County, After-School Activities: The Pros and Cons of Filling Your Kids’ Schedule

Communities In Schools of Jacksonville, The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities: Improving Academic Performance and Life Skills

Houston Chronicle, “What Are the General Activities & Duties of a High School Teacher?”

SplashLearn, “100+ Best Extracurricular Activities for Kids in 2024”

Verywell Family, “Best Extracurricular Activities for Your Child or Teen”

VNA Health Care, How Extracurricular Activities and Hobbies Can Help Children With Their Mental Health

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