Extra-curricular activities: pros and cons

Most parents want their child to engage in some form of extra-curricular activity after school or on the weekends. The most obvious of these is your child either take up an instrument and become Mozart, or they could join a sports team and become Sonia O’Sullivan. Some parents encourage both, hoping that the music will teach them patience and diligence (and help with maths), while the sport will help with fitness, health and social skills.

But if you needed to choose, which one would be better for your child to take part in? And does one have more perks over the other?

Musical instruments
  • Improved academic skills
    Music lessons during childhood are said to increase academic ability and diligence. Learning to read and memorise sheet music helps with mathematical ability and academic prowess in school.
  • Development of some physical skills
    Fingers and hands are the obvious ones here with instruments like the piano resulting in hands and fingers becoming longer and more agile. The violin and other string instruments result in strength and flexibility. Other effects include lung capacity and overall strength from singing and wind instruments, and carrying larger instruments like cello, double bass or harp.
  • Refined discipline and patience
    Learning to play an instrument takes time and practice. Lot’s of practice. Though the beginning stages can sound a lot like two cats fighting, once some skill is mastered there is no sweeter sound than an instrument singing.
  • Boosts self esteem
    Attaining any skill is enough to boost confidence. But a musical instrument will enable the learner to have the ability and confidence to show this to their family and peers, and maybe take it further in their lives.
  • Introduces children to other cultures
    Children aren’t exposed to a lot of classical music. Unless you’re listening to Lyric FM and attending the Concert Hall pretty regularly, your children might not have any access to different types of music other than One Direction and Justin Bieber. Learning an instrument opens up the wide world of classical music (and the White Stripes if learning the guitar).
  • Over scheduling
    With school and homework becoming more and more demanding, it can be difficult to find spare time in the day for your child to take a lesson and practice a musical instrument. This can be especially true if children have to commute to school, or if their parents work and the children have to stay in an after school club until the evening.
  • Pressure
    If a child doesn’t show a genuine love and interest in an instrument, it can be added pressure and stress in their life. They may be continuing to study the instrument to please their parents who ‘always regretted not learning to play the piano’ or ‘wished they’d never quit the guitar’.
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  • Exercise
    Getting your child out of the house and playing soccer once a week is great. They’re out in the fresh air and running around, hopefully making exercise the habit of a lifetime. You have to ask yourself what would the child be doing otherwise (watching TV, jumping on the bed, or driving you crazy)?
  • Social skills
    Playing on a team teaches children how to be good communicators and to rely on one another. The added benefit to sports is that children spend a lot of hours with the same people each week, which can create lifelong bonds.
  • Self-esteem
    Gaining prowess at a sport is a healthy way for children to feel good about themselves. When we exercise our bodies release endorphins giving us a natural high, which make us feel good and cement the activity with good feelings and memories.
  • Academic success
    Sticking with a sport encourages children to focus on their studies. The diligence and training required teaches them to practice and learn from mistakes.
  • Hone the competitive edge
    A little competition never hurt anyone, so where’s the harm in introducing that competitive edge that will enable your child to better themselves.
  • Burnout
    Many children suffer from burning out if they start their sport too young or engage with it too intensely for a period of time. This can be due to boredom with the sport, lack of skill, or lack of payout.
  • Pushy parents
    If parents push their children into playing a sport, then the child may not want to engage with the sport after a while, since it doesn’t feel like it’s up to them, or their decision.
  • Resentment
    Parents who continually trump to their children how ‘they wished they’d never give up’, will cause the child to resent them in the long run, as it feels as though the child is performing for their parents pleasure, not for their own. This can weaken the bond of trust and reliance between child and parent, and the child may not come to that parent for advice or with their troubles in the future.
  • Self esteem issues
    Sometimes, our children may simply not have the skills to thrive in sport. Forcing them to keep at it may cause them embarrassment and anxiety. It’s hard to hold your head up in front of your team when, in your own eyes, you keep failing or you’re not able to keep up.

Originally posted 2017-01-31 17:04:03.