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The Benefits of Co-Curricular Activities: A Deeper Look – Jennifer Oaten

Netball, softball and tennis were all sports I loved at school, but the sporting program is not for everyone. For some students, music is their passion. My experience with the recorder wasn’t really needed! For others, service is an important aspect of their lives. My proud moment of service at school was raising the most money in the whole school to win the ‘Battered Sandshoe Award in Year 10. I still have the certificate!

Co-curricular refers to opportunities offered beyond the curriculum, usually before or after school and include other areas such as faith, dance, drama and academic extension. Our students are so fortunate, and our staff so generous that we are able to provide something for everyone. I certainly did not have so many choices when I was at school.

So why are co-curricular activities great for young people?

Enhanced Social Networks

Co-curricular activities provide opportunities for students to form friendships outside of their normal social circles. By interacting with different peers in different year groups, who share similar interests, students can develop strong social bonds, fostering a sense of community within the school. These connections can provide emotional support during challenging times and help students navigate the complexities of adolescence. Involvement in co-curricular also promotes the development of interpersonal skills, such as communication, teamwork, and empathy, which are invaluable in both their personal and professional lives.

Cultivating a Sense of Belonging

Our co-curricular activities foster a sense of belonging within the school community. By participating in the various co-curricular activities on offer, students can forge lasting connections with their peers and teachers, creating a supportive and nurturing environment. This sense of belonging and feeling valued contributes to increased self-esteem and a more positive school experience. A great example at Santa Maria is the sense of belonging our students feel who belong to the Music community. Developing strong friendships within your ‘tribe’ is crucial in the teenage years.

Nurturing Diverse Interests and Talents

Our co-curricular offerings cater to a wide range of interests, allowing students to explore their passions and develop their unique talents. By providing diverse opportunities, we encourage students to step out of their comfort zones, discover new interests, and grow in confidence.

From STEM-focused clubs such as Robotics and Maths Club to Drama, Media Crew, Eco-sisters or Women in Business, Mental Health Ambassadors, Art Forum or Debating, there is something for everyone. Far more options than most parents ever had at school!

Improved academic performance

Students who engage in co-curricular activities often experience better academic outcomes. These activities can help develop essential skills such as time management, problem-solving, and critical thinking, directly contributing to academic success. Additionally, involvement in co-curricular activities can ignite a student’s passion for learning and foster a more positive attitude towards school, resulting in higher grades, educational aspirations, and overall academic achievement.

More Positive Mental Health

Time spent in co-curricular reduces the time available for social media use. This time spent socialising and communicating in person leads to a more positive outlook on life and more positive mental health. Whether it be through energy-charged sport, the energy that comes from singing in a choir or taking time to paint or helping the vulnerable in our community, the positive impact on wellbeing should not be underestimated.

Reduced Risky Behaviour

Participation in structured activities has been associated with a reduction in risky behaviour. Co-curricular programs provide a positive outlet for students to channel their energy and focus on personal growth. By engaging in constructive pursuits, students develop a sense of responsibility, self-discipline, and resilience and are less likely to become involved in harmful behaviours such as substance abuse, poor online behaviour or criminal activities.

Preparing Students for the Future

The skills and experiences gained through co-curricular activities are invaluable in preparing students for their future careers and personal lives. Our programs help students develop essential competencies, such as adaptability, problem-solving, and collaboration, which are highly sought after by employers in today’s rapidly changing job market. Co-curricular activities can also help students make informed decisions about their future education and career paths, ensuring they are well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Greater Success Later in Life

Studies have shown that involvement in co-curricular activities is linked to higher levels of educational attainment and better outcomes in adulthood. Students who participate in co-curricular programs are more likely to pursue higher education, secure stable employment, and enjoy higher income levels. These positive outcomes can be attributed to the various skills and experiences gained through co-curricular activities, such as leadership, teamwork, and perseverance. Involvement in co-curricular programs can help students build a strong network of contacts and mentors, which can prove invaluable when seeking scholarships, entering the workforce or pursuing further education.

Co-curricular activities play a crucial role in fostering well-rounded individuals who are primed for success in all aspects of their lives. By participating in these programs, students at any school can reap the benefits of improved wellbeing, enhanced social networks, stronger academic performance, and greater success later in life.

As educators and parents, we are responsible for encouraging and supporting students’ involvement in co-curricular activities, helping them unlock their full potential and setting the stage for a bright and prosperous future.

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