And, of course, daily practice requires discipline and sitting power – two things that are essential for learning in a school setting.
Chesed. Whether it is volunteering at a community soup kitchen on Sundays or doing bikur cholim every Friday afternoon, children of all ages can get involved in chesed activities. Aside from participating in acts of kindness, these activities will raise moral awareness in your children, building their social skills and emotional intelligence.
Seeing themselves as contributing members of society will also build their confidence and self-esteem. And, anybody who has been in a classroom knows that book smarts are not the single, or maybe even the most important, indicator of a child’s success in the classroom. Rather, children’s ability to ask appropriate questions (social skills), converse with classmates (social skills), and play to their own strengths (high self-esteem) are integral parts of the learning process. Volunteering can help children strengthen these non-academic skills, thereby leading to better academic results.
If all of the reasons I have listed above are not enough of an argument, consider this: a 1995 study conducted by Dr. Ralph McNeal found that there was an approximately forty percent lower drop-out rate among students who were involved in extracurricular activities when compared to those who were not involved in afterschool activities.
How Much Is Too Much
While extracurricular activities clearly have multiple benefits, there is a point at which those benefits cease. Nobody can do everything and children who are involved in a different club every day after school will have less time for homework and relaxation. Both homework and relaxation are also integral parts of learning, as repetition and rest are two very important steps in the learning process. Therefore, since you and your child know what’s best for him, have a discussion about what feels manageable and interesting before you sign him up for extracurricular activities. You do not want to over-schedule your child and then feel that he is racing to keep up with all of the moving pieces in his life. After all, in the end, these are extracurriculars.
About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills specialist, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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