As I traveled around the world with my 5 children, I noticed a striking difference between high schools in the United States and high schools in other countries, particularly regarding extracurricular activities. US and Canadian high schools place a greater amount of importance on extracurricular sports. This has a significant impact on school culture, forms of parent engagement, and the formation of student identities.
Benefits of Extracurricular Sports and Activities
There’s more to school than reading, writing, and arithmetic. The benefits of participating in extracurricular activities should persuade you to get involved. Soft skills, or skills like compassion, communication, and creativity are often built around activities that take place outside the classroom.
Improved Academic Performance
One of the biggest worries parents and students have about extracurricular activities is that it will interfere with your studies. Although over-extending yourself can have detrimental effects on learning, participating in extracurricular activities often improves academic performance. Being involved in something you really love stimulates brain function, helps focus, and increases confidence, all which help in the classroom. It can help students make connections to new peers, which impacts their experience of social integration in the classroom. Students who feel they belong also perform better at school.
Granted, attending school as an exchange student in the U.S. will no doubt expand your world view whether you participate in an extracurricular activity or not, but getting involved in activities or sports will give you a cultural experience you won’t get through classroom attendance alone.
The act of getting involved with something you enjoy, setting and accomplishing goals, and getting out of your comfort zone increases self-confidence. Challenging yourself through extracurricular participation provides opportunities for growth.
Your experience as an exchange student hinges on creating strong relationships with your peers. Participating in extracurricular activities helps you find individuals with similar interests and provides opportunities to forge strong relationships. This can translate into shared activities outside of school, such as joining a club or team together through town recreation.
A Break from School
If your life at school consists only of sitting in class and doing homework, you may not find attending an American or Canadian high school very enjoyable. Extracurricular activities give you a productive break from the classroom.
Nobody outside of your immediate family and friends cares about how many goals you score or what place you finished at a local competition. Your potential employer will never ask about your 100-meter time or the alloy you used to construct a robot. They should but, they won’t.