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The ‘extra’ in extracurricular

By Susan Hayes

Federal Programs Director

Hartselle City Schools

Even the elementary students in Hartselle City Schools enjoy Club Day. Extracurricular activities enrich the educational experience of all students.

Social skills expansion

We have a tendency to undervalue the development of social skills until we encounter a student who has not acquired them. The ability to adjust one’s expectations and behaviors to a social setting comes with practice, and even though all students prefer to interact only with their best friends or with those who most resemble them in demeanor, it is time with others that develops them and gives them the confidence they need to navigate new social situations.

At the elementary level, teachers play a central role in directing students’ social interactions with one another, but as students grow older they are self-directed, and the focus of their interactions – creating a product or winning a competition – requires more mature interactions. The known comforts us, but it is the new that grows us.

Interest exploration

Students with an interest in math may find that they also have an interest in coding, manufacturing or engineering. How will they know? At the elementary level, clubs can expose them to these careers. By the time they reach high school they can take classes to develop these interests into a career. Schools cannot simulate every career under the sun, but we can work to expose students to many available to them and to help them develop the essentials they will need no matter their choice.

Soft skills development

Have you ever heard anyone say that if you want to get something done you should give the task to a busy person? Though it is certainly possible for a student to over-extend himself/herself, it is busy students, those who must learn to schedule their minutes, who tend to get the most accomplished. Leadership is developed when students have opportunities to lead. Church groups, little league teams, scouting – the choice in activity is not as important as choosing to actively participate in something.

Lastly, a role on a team brings so much to a student. Team members depend on one another and must answer to one another. A positive choice brings something positive to all. A negative choice hurts everyone. Because we are growing students into productive citizens who will thrive in communities, these early lessons in interdependence are priceless.

Hartselle City Schools believes in offering all students a little extra. Extracurricular activities are part of that.