The Importance of Extracurricular Activities for Children by Dr. Kelly Everson and Dr. Brandi Rials

With school in full swing, children are (hopefully!) back to studying, spending time on their homework and going to bed at a reasonable hour. It′s vital to remember that the average school-aged child requires a minimum of 10 hours of sleep each night to be their best the following day. It′s also essential to take into account your child′s social and extracurricular life. Just as self-care is vital for adults and parents to be at their best for others, it is important for a child to participate in extracurricular activities to learn positive social skills and build healthy self-esteem. This doesn′t mean every child will enjoy playing soccer on an organized team, but it does mean that all children need nourishment outside of school, socially and recreationally. It′s key to find a balance between what your child has enjoyed in the past and exposing them to new, exciting experiences they might not otherwise seek out themselves. Children adapt so well to change that it is our responsibility to put them in as many new, interesting, stimulating situations as they grow. Extracurricular activities are anything outside of your home and your child′s classroom that help them build social skills, self-esteem and stay healthy, whether that′s mentally, emotionally or physically. Certain children will excel at learning a new language, playing an instrument or taking an art class, while others need physical activities such as soccer, gymnastics or swimming. No matter what it is that your child tries out, it′s important that they are involved in activities in which they can make some decisions, feel proud of themselves as they learn new things, experience challenge and make new friends. These friends are ones that your child needs to work a little harder at building relationships with as they are not in class together day after day.

As long as children are not overbooked with responsibilities, extracurricular activities can be a great opportunity for growth. As with school and homework, make an evening schedule for your child so they know when they are doing each activity so there are no surprises. This will also help build responsibility as they will need to add their games or lessons to these schedules. Moderation is key as school should continue to be their priority- it′s crucial not to overbook our children as they can often become very anxious and stressed when they feel overwhelmed. Following these few tips can lead to children who feel proud of their accomplishments and capable of succeeding, both academically and recreationally.

Palm Beach Behavioral Health and Wellness serves the emotional and behavioral needs of children, adolescents and families in the Jupiter area. Drs. Everson and Rials are Florida Licensed Psychologists who offer individual, group and family therapy, in addition to psychological and psycho-educational testing services. They can be reached at (561) 429-2397 and