In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of extracurricular activities for girls and young women, from kindergarten through to year 12. These activities, pursued outside of regular academic classes, provide a range of benefits that can help females develop into confident, well-rounded individuals. In this blog, we will explore some of the key benefits of extracurricular activities and why they are particularly important for females.
- Improved academic performance
Extracurricular activities can help females improve their academic performance. When girls participate in activities such as STEM clubs, debate teams, or music ensembles, they learn skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which can translate into improved performance in the classroom. Research has shown that students who participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to achieve higher grades and are more likely to graduate from high school (Fredricks, 2011).
- Increased self-confidence
Extracurricular activities can also help to boost girls' self-confidence. Females often face societal pressures and stereotypes that can impact their self-esteem and self-worth. By participating in activities that they enjoy and excel in, they can develop a sense of accomplishment and pride, which can carry over into other areas of their lives. They may also have opportunities to take on leadership roles, which can help them to develop important skills such as communication, negotiation, and decision-making.
- Exposure to new experiences and ideas
Extracurricular activities can provide females with exposure to new experiences and ideas that they may not encounter in the classroom. Girls may be introduced to new fields, careers, or cultures that they may not have otherwise explored. This exposure can help to broaden their horizons and inspire them to pursue their passions. In our most recent interview with Year 11 Student, Billie Fisher, she stated that “sports have definitely been the best part of coming to school”, and also mentioned that playing in 3rd-grade basketball means she gets to interact with different girls from different year groups.
- Development of social skills
Girls often face unique social challenges and may benefit from learning how to navigate social dynamics and relationships. By interacting with peers who share similar interests, girls can learn how to communicate effectively, build supportive relationships, and work collaboratively. These skills are important not just for their current activities, but also for their future careers and personal relationships. Christions (2013) states that young people who engage in extracurricular activities exhibit enhanced academic performance, stronger character development, better social skills, and a greater appreciation of community involvement.
- Improved physical and mental health
Finally, extracurricular activities can help to improve females' physical and mental health. Participating in sports or other physical activities can improve their fitness and reduce their risk of developing health problems such as obesity or heart disease. Activities such as music or art can provide a creative outlet for their emotions and help to reduce stress and anxiety. O'Flaherty et al.’s (2022) research indicated that team sports may have wider advantages for the integration of teenagers into school and social networks. Supported by Oberle et al.'s (2019) research, which indicates that participating in extracurricular activities can improve mental health by fostering a sense of belonging among peers.
In conclusion, extracurricular activities offer a range of benefits for girls and young women, from improved academic performance and increased self-confidence to exposure to new experiences and ideas, development of social skills, and improved physical and mental health. Parents and educators should encourage females to participate in a range of activities that reflect their interests and passions, as this can help to support their overall development and empowerment.
- Interview with Billie Fisher: https://youtu.be/3O5NrIVLObQ
- Christison, C. (2013) The Benefits of Participating in Extracurricular Activities, BU Journal of Graduate Studies in Education, 5 (2), 17-20.
- Fredricks, J. A. (2011). Extracurricular participation and academic outcomes: Testing the overscheduling hypothesis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(3), 295-307.
- O'Flaherty, M., Baxter, J., & Campbell, A. (2022). Do extracurricular activities contribute to better adolescent outcomes? A fixed-effects panel data approach. Journal of Adolescence, 94, 855– 866. https://doi.org/10.1002/jad.12069
- Oberle, E., Ji, X. R., Guhn, M., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Gadermann, A. M. (2019). Benefits of extracurricular participation in early adolescence: Associations with peer belonging and mental health. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48(11), 2255– 2270. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01110-2