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Selecting extracurricular activities for your child

Published:Thursday | September 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Playing a sport is a popular extracurricular activity for many Jamaican children.

The following is another in a series of parenting tips brought to you by The Sunday Gleaner in association with the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC).

With the new school year up and running, students and parents may be caught in a web of options as to which extracurricular activities are worth pursuing.

While there may be few research findings available in Jamaica as to the impact of extra-curricular activities on student development, the United States Department of Education indicates that students who engage in such activities usually register a more consistent attendance and a stronger desire to continue their education after high school compared to other students.

For many parents, the benefits of having their children engage in extracurricular activities may not be easily accepted, however, it is extremely important to consider that the activities children engage in after school will significantly shape their future. Through these activities, values such as teamwork, individual initiative and group responsibility are learnt.

In addressing the issue of selecting extracurricular activities, director of communication and public relations at the NPSC Mikhale Edwards suggests some significant factors to be considered by parents. They include the following, not listed in order of priority:




For many parents, this may be an appropriate starting point. Is your child genuinely interested in playing a sport, the visual and performance arts, or are they more interested in student government? Parents should resist the urge to live vicariously through their children. By recognising the unique gifts and talents of your child, parents will be better able to channel that energy into a meaningful and focused area.




Depending on your child's daily routine and mode of transportation, it is impractical for a child to get home at 10 p.m. after engaging in extracurricular activities. In creating a structured life for their child, parents should assist to determine when an extracurricular activity becomes too burdensome.




In these challenging economic times, how much of your monthly income will be spent on your child acquiring equipment and other necessary resources in order to develop their area of interest? Will your family be forced to make significant financial sacrifices, such as cutting back on their quality of food or constantly incurring costs? If your family will be placed under such strain, it may be necessary to persuade your child to pursue another area of interest.




Through effective communication with their children, parents should receive a clear picture as to what their child hopes to achieve from engaging in a stated area of interest. Is it being used as a platform for personal growth and development, or as a springboard through which your child may receive a scholarship after primary or secondary school? Parents should provide guidance in helping children to choose activities that will fit their long-term goals.




The most successful people of our lifetime have been able to do few things extremely well. For some students who may be unsure as to what their area of interest is, it is recommended that they become exposed to various activities. Sure, there may be students who are able to balance two sports and still dedicate enough time to learn how to play a musical instrument. However, not every student will have the energy level and time-management skills to engage in such diverse activities. Quality output should always be chosen over engaging in a high quantity of activities.




As opportunities present themselves for students to pursue non-traditional occupations after secondary school, parents are reminded to stress the importance of children balancing their academic pursuits with their prowess in other areas. Whether or not higher education will eventually include your child enrolling in a tertiary institution, parents should emphasise the importance of their children building a steady academic foundation.


You can contact the NPSC via: Facebook: Twitter: @NPSCJamaica. Email: nationalparenting

Tel: (876) 967-7977