Learning & Development

How does participation in after-school activities benefit overall child development?

Written by Archana Singh Nughaal
Published: October 11, 2022

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Currently working in Pinegrove School in Kasauli Hills, Archana Nughaal is an educationist with over 14 years of experience. Her certifications include Army Commander's Commendation, Management & Personality Development DSSC, Wellington and MBA from Utkal University.

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Education in its purest form is essentially the process of being prepared for life. Every subject and notion studied as a part of education has a purpose. What takes place inside the classroom only makes up a small fraction of the preparation a child needs for life. They need to be ready for anything that life throws their way. For those wondering what else can teach kids this, if books can’t? The answer is plain and simple – extra-curricular or after-school activities

The ancient Gurukul system is the perfect example of what quality and holistic education should be. More than theoretical lessons, the prime focus was to encourage physical activities like sports, yoga and walks and it emphasized learning skills such as art, craft, singing and dancing. Based on applied knowledge, it prepared an individual for all fields of life, along with mindful and spiritual awareness. No wonder, people from Europe, the Middle East, and Portugal came to India seeking quality education. 

Unfortunately, because of our highly sedentary lifestyles, extracurricular activities are increasingly being pushed to the backseat nowadays. Our children have become less interested in hobbies and other enrichment activities as a result of the increasing need to demonstrate academic excellence. Plus, the lure of screen time has become another deterrent in terms of nourishing mental and physical activity, leaving absolutely no time for proper exercise for kids. Rarely do we witness parents encouraging the younger generation to pursue their passions and goals. It’s high time we challenge the realm of the conventional education system and encourage alternative kids’ activities such as sports, cookery, music, dance, martial arts, art & craft, yoga etc.

What exactly constitutes an after-school activity?

By definition, extracurricular activities are those that are “outside the regular curriculum or program of courses”. It gives your kid a chance to learn something that might stick with them forever. That aptitude could serve as the foundation for a long-lasting interest or passion. 

How does it benefit the overall development of a child?

Spending hours doing something they enjoy could result from anything, from participating in sports to learning an instrument.

In addition, extracurricular activities foster important personality qualities and life skills that can be useful in other spheres of life.  Sports are essential for fostering collaboration, leadership, and problem-solving abilities. Playing an instrument demands patience, good hand-eye coordination, and imagination above all. These are abilities that will be useful long after their education is over.

  • It provides a breather from the intense academic duties.
  • It develops thinking skills among other learnings.
  • They learn to mingle with kids who are not from their immediate surroundings
    hence enhancing social skills.
  • It presents real-life situations based on what a student learns in the classroom.
  • It gives the child an opportunity to present their knowledge in a new environment.
  • It builds the child’s confidence by putting them in tough situations.
  • It brings out the hidden talent which would otherwise go unnoticed. 
  • It teaches them to balance things and decide what is important and what’s not.
  • It teaches them time management skills – studies and after-school activities.
  • It teaches them to be responsible.
  • Sports help in keeping the body and mind healthy.
  • Debates and drama are other enrichment activities that help in stimulating creative thinking.
  • They help them supplement classroom teaching and keep them interested in school.
  • It prepares the child for anything that life throws at them/vital skills like team spirit, leadership, honesty, tolerance and perseverance
  • It helps the children stay safe and engage in constructive activities while parents are away at work.

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What are the different types of after-school activities?

You may be surprised at the sheer number of after-school activities that are available in schools and communities around you. Here is only a small sample of outdoor as well as indoor activities for kids that can be available close to you.

  • Mainstream sports – swimming, football, cricket, basketball, hockey, badminton, gymnastics, skating etc  
  • Alternative physical activity – adventure sports, rock climbing, martial arts like karate, taekwondo, judo
  • Scouts – teaches basic outdoor survival skills
  • Performing arts – dance, music, singing, theatre
  • Visual arts – drawing, painting, pottery, arts and crafts etc
  •  Academic clubs – maths, chess, reading, debates, storytelling

Dos and don’ts while choosing an after-school activity

Picking an after-school activity involves keeping an eye out for a few things. It depends on the activity, of course, but we also advise that you look at the following.


  • Find out the kid’s interest levels
  • Find an activity that sounds interesting or fun
  • Check if the school offers anything
  • Explore local newspapers, bulletin boards, and social media that carry ads about such programs
  • Enquire among peer groups or the local community


  • Overschedule the activities
  • Let it affect their homework
  • Cut back on time with friends and families
  • Let it affect their eight hours of sleep
  • Burden them with unwanted pressure to excel in everything

How many extracurricular activities are too much?

Since some kids perform better with a busier schedule than others and some need more downtime, there is no predetermined number of after-school activities that are appropriate for all kids. Cut back on extracurricular activities, though, if your child is struggling to keep up with family and friends, can’t get at least eight hours of sleep each night, or is having difficulties finishing homework.

To summarize, extracurricular activities can help your child develop their talents and social network while also making an investment in their future. In addition to assisting them in developing a growth mindset through teamwork and problem-solving exercises, pursuing interests outside of the academic curriculum may help teach your child how to strike a better work-life balance when they become adults.

Talking to your child’s instructors, other parents and community leaders about available options in your area is essential for figuring out which classes and activities are a good fit for your child. Above all, be open-minded and fearless while allowing your child to explore new things. A kid or teen who may be uninterested in one activity or lack motivation for it could discover their actual passion in another.

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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