Extracurricular activities can enhance a student’s school experience in many ways. Talented athletes and actors can achieve acclaim for their talents, while many school clubs and projects offer educational and social opportunities that aren’t available in the classroom. However, extracurricular activities have their negative aspects, too. Students should be aware of the potential pitfalls of those activities to make sure their school experience is as positive as possible.
Managing Time Commitments
Exciting extracurricular activities are available for elementary, middle and high school students. It can be tempting to sign up for everything, but that may hurt your grades. Even teenagers often struggle with time management, and some extracurricular activities demand more time and energy than many students can handle. If you’re a student who needs a little longer than your peers to finish your homework, an activity that takes up several hours every afternoon after school may not leave you with sufficient time to get all your work done. An alternative might be to get involved with clubs or activities that only meet once or twice a week or that only meet for short periods after school.
Becoming Consumed by an Activity
You may choose an activity that leaves enough time for school work and other priorities, but you might choose to devote your extra time and attention to that extracurricular interest. For example, you may love being involved with drama club at your school because you enjoy performing or working backstage and socializing with the cast. Your passion for drama can be come all consuming and distract you from other commitments. For instance, you may finding yourself having trouble keeping up with assignments or finishing chores at home because you spend so much time hanging out at the auditorium, running lines or rehearsing songs and dances. You may panic when you realize that you don't have time to catch up on everything you left undone.
Might Be the Wrong Activity
If you're going to commit to an extracurricular activity, it should be one you're interested in and find rewarding. Parents may push certain activities with good intentions, but if piano lessons are stressful because you'd rather be playing basketball, talk with your parents about your feelings. Maybe you can find a compromise, such as a temporary break from lessons during basketball season. Elementary or middle school should be reminded that they will have plenty of time in the school years ahead to try different activities. Overinvolvement can lead to feelings of anxiety, especially if competitive performance is demanded.
Less Unstructured Plan Time
When much of a young person’s life is scheduled, little time remains for the carefree moments that foster discovery and imagination. Young children especially need the freedom to simply play and allow their minds to develop new games, instead of following a rigid schedule established by parents and other grown-ups. If you have a young child who has lessons, sports practice and other structured activities throughout the week, think about whether he's getting enough "kid time." If he seems stressed or over-scheduled, drop an activity and allow for some simple activities like playing outside, informal games or free play with friends and family.