5 Influential extracurricular activities to help with student-life balance

Posted on the 14th October

When you branch into the world of work, having a good work-life balance is something that is stressed by all your peers, bosses and family. It enables you to refresh your mind, focus on aspects of your life away from the world of work and enable you to continue evolving. It is important that students also experience a form of school-life balance. One of the best ways to achieve this is through extra-curricular activities. Through them, they will pick up new skills that can’t be attained through educational study alone. 


Every student has a different personality and set of traits that will help them excel in particular areas. The importance of nurturing each individual to blossom into the best and most comfortable version of themselves is something as a species we should be striving towards. Whilst the following list will include some generic extracurricular activities that you may have tried already, I hope it can act as a catalyst to continue the search for finding a passion outside of academia that students can enjoy. 


Schools up and down the country offer a variety of extracurricular clubs that can help students test out different activities free of charge. They can be a great way to spend additional time with old friends as well as create new friends and build long-lasting relationships. But don’t feel pigeonholed into a school club. There are so many services in your local community that will provide a similar experience. There are so many options that it is important to have an open dialogue with the student about their interests, whilst they may not be the most sporty, they could thrive in a single competitive environment and may fall in love with tennis because of this or they may be incredibly extroverted and involved in countless teams that learning a new language could appeal as it opens the door for additional communication with new people. Whatever it may be, it is important that the decision is made together. 


How to pick the best activity for you


  • Brainstorm a few ideas


Down below in each category I will be listing a whole host of possible activities that students can do around that particular topic. But it is not an exhaustive list. There are hundreds of thousands of different activities all with nuances that make them unique and interesting.


The first step in deciding which activity is best for you is by mind mapping or listing extra-curricular activities that you have a mild interest in. You don’t have to pick a single one from the list but you will start to get an idea for which genre you have leaned towards.


With each idea, there are a number of avenues and outlets that you can pursue. If you are looking to learn a musical instrument, you could take private 1 to 1 tuition or classes, join a local band, play for a community choir or join a production companies orchestra. Many options for the same activity.


  • Join some!


Whilst this may seem obvious, for many it is the hardest step. Plucking up the courage to try something new and enforce change in the daily routine is difficult. Don’t pigeonhole yourself early, try out as many as you can. Most clubs and activities will offer taster sessions to you free of charge so make the most of them!


  • Narrow them down


After a few weeks, you should have gained a good perspective on which activities are enjoyable and suitable. Choose activities that will allow you to make a meaningful impact on personal development, community development and family development.


Whilst the activity itself is crucial, there are a few other considerations that should be taken into account that may fly under the radar. Here are an additional few things you should look out for:


  1. A space that is clean and big enough to accommodate all of the students in the class is important. The students need to feel comfortable and stimulated. If the physical space is cramped and there are too many people, it can hinder the enjoyment even if it is what they want to do. 
  2. Whilst it is not a deal-breaker it is important that the club has financial stability and a good budget. You don’t want to turn up to a trombone class, only to find that 20 students are sharing 5 trombones.
  3. The staff at the club should be friendly, enthusiastic and approachable. Whilst qualifications are incredibly important, they should not be a deal-breaker. Nowadays, a piece of paper is used to certify that someone is qualified enough but sometimes it is not an accurate representation. The best example of this would be music teachers. The process for grade assessments is long, arduous and can detract from someone’s passion for a subject if they have to go through it for a certificate. So carefully consider whether you want someone with 20 years of real-life band experience or another with a piece of paper that says they achieved a Grade 3 but has only been in the industry for 2 years.


Now that all of that is out of the way, let us break down some extracurricular activities to give you some inspiration and ideas for yourself to help balance that academic life out.


Music



Music can mean a whole host of things. From learning a new instrument and creating your own music to joining a dance class to understand rhythm and timing. Whatever it may be, music can offer students a deeper learning experience than any other medium. Freedom of expression is a pillar of music and as such, students will learn so much about history and culture from enriching themselves through a form of music. The depth available is staggering with each genre having a plethora of sub-genres. 


Certain types of music will allow for the emotional development of students. Experiencing a form of heartbreak may open them up to categories of music they had never experienced before, helping them to grow and move on. They may be exposed to a unique style of music through a new choreographed dance routine and begin researching why certain movements link with a particular note.


Just because they are no longer in the classroom doesn’t mean the learning takes a back seat for fun. Progression is exhilarating and should be encouraged.


Musical extracurricular activity ideas:


  • Dance classes
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Reading sheet music
  • Joining a choir
  • Singing lessons
  • Marching band


Gaming



Ahhhh video games. The bane of parental existence and the joyous comfort for a student to shut themselves away from reality. With the increase in technological performance over the last 20 years, video games have come on leaps and bounds. With new games coming out daily, offering improved realism and graphic potential to blur the line between fantasy and common life. The hype around gaming has grown so quickly that now it is possible to earn a living through playing these games through live streaming services like Twitch and Youtube.


I can understand the thought process behind not wanting a student to sit in front of a computer screen all evening and I do agree. It isn’t healthy. It can have a serious impact on physical and mental health. But just like anything, you have to find the right balance. 


Video games offer so many benefits! They can improve multi-tasking and manual dexterity abilities. Surgeons who played video games regularly made 37 per cent fewer mistakes and performed advanced procedures faster. The games themselves are just workouts in disguise, helping to increase grey matter within the brain to help with muscle control, memory retention, perception and navigation. Finally, they are a great way to socialise. They allow for seamless instant connection with friends across the world and can be a doorway to meeting like-minded individuals. 


Gaming extracurricular activity ideas:


  • Video game social club
  • Tournaments
  • Build a streaming channel
  • Start a Youtube channel


Sport



Sport covers a variety of different bases. (Baseball pun) There are so many sports to choose from each with its own unique style and rules. I am a firm believer in the one. By that, I mean that there is a sport out there for you, even if you don’t believe it. 


Introverts tend to lean more towards single sports such as tennis, climbing and swimming where they compete as individuals as they don’t enjoy the team environment. 


Extroverts on the other hand are more outgoing and will lean towards more team-based sports and activities because they enjoy the social aspect like rugby, football and hockey.


My favourite sport is Cricket. This may not seem relevant at all but I find it is the perfect blend of the two. Whilst you are playing as part of a team of 11 against another team of 11 each individual section of cricket bowling, batting and fielding all have elements in which it is individual. When I am bowling it is just me versus the batter. I use this example because not all sports are directed towards a single personality, finding the right one for you will involve trial and error.


The benefits of sport are insurmountable, ranging from better sleep, a stronger heart and improved lung capacity. 


Sport extracurricular activity ideas:


  • Football
  • Cricket
  • Rugby
  • Tennis
  • Squash
  • Badminton
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Hockey
  • Netball
  • Basketball
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Athletics
  • Volleyball


Crafts



Through arts and crafts, students learn to value and appreciate artefacts and images from across different cultures and time periods. Experience in design, arts and crafts enable them to critically and analytically reflect on their own work and that of others. Learning to act and think like future artists and designers, working bravely, intelligently and creatively.


By engaging in creative projects or pursuits it helps students express themselves in a positive and tangible way, helping to boost motivation and raise confidence in the classroom and out. 


Arts and Crafts extracurricular activity ideas:


  • Animation
  • Art club
  • Blacksmithing
  • Woodworking
  • Cartooning
  • Fashion design
  • Photography
  • Sculpturing
  • Sewing
  • Baking


Foreign Languages



Communication in the 21st-century is evolving constantly and at such a pace that it is hard to fathom just how connected we are. 


The advent of instant communication has meant the language barrier across cultures is diminishing. The rise of messaging systems has meant the introduction of translate apps all designed to seamlessly integrate into our daily lives.


While they are great, every culture and language has its own colloquialisms that these apps struggle to comprehend. As such, it is more important than ever for students to begin learning a second language from a young age.


Languages to learn:


  • French
  • Spanish
  • Mandarin
  • German
  • Latin
  • Italian
  • Greek
  • Japanese
  • Cantonese
  • Kling-on
  • Dothraki


Honourable Mentions


There are a good number of activities that aren’t easily categorisable but are worth mentioning. Each one of them has its own set of benefits and rewards for taking part. From routine to flexibility and at a number of price points. Below you will find a list of some extracurricular activities that are worth checking out if you are still not sure the ones above will work for you.


  • Architecture club
  • Astronomy club
  • Science club
  • Weekly quiz
  • Poetry club
  • Web design/coding
  • Mountaineering
  • Scouts
  • Youth council
  • Tutoring


If you need help with academic studies this year, why not take a look at our list of qualified UK teachers who are able to run their own after school extracurricular classes to help boost grades and confidence.

Career Advice
Educational

James Gurnett

14th October

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