Why Extracurricular Activities are Important
Almost every school offers extracurricular activities, whether it is an elementary school or a university. Extracurricular activities are important. These activities give students the opportunities to explore their interests and develop their talents.
Youth who participate in these activities are less likely to use drugs and alcohol or engage in criminal behaviors, according to the University of Nevada Reno Cooperative Extension. These activities are also important for high school and college students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, extracurricular activities keep high school and college students engaged and may help prevent them from dropping out.
The Problem with Extracurricular Activities
In most schools, educators struggle to fill the spots for the extracurricular activities. This is particularly a problem at the university level, because the students often have jobs in addition to their classes and they do not have a parent on hand to urge them to take advantage of the extracurricular opportunities available to them. Many students and even some parents view these activities as yet another meeting to attend or one more place to drive to in their already jam-packed schedule. If educators want to attract students to these opportunities, they must go beyond simply posting announcements or fliers. They must follow some simple strategies for capturing student interest.
Strategy 1 - Make the Activities Fun
The organizers of extracurricular activities always think their activities are fun and engaging, but students may have more difficulty seeing the value in the activity. To attract students to your extracurricular activity, try to put yourself in the student's shoes. Although the National Honor Society meeting or the Green Chemistry Council meeting may be valuable for the student's education, students may not see the meetings as fun or something they look forward to.
Some simple strategies to make your event more fun is to include some activities that the students will enjoy. They can be related to the activity, but they do not have to be. For example, if the extracurricular activity is the Japanese Club, bring a sampling of sushi or another traditional Japanese food. Students of all ages love to eat and if word gets around that you have food, they will be more likely to show up. Alternatively, hold a raffle for a small, but desirable, prize, such as a free pass to a school event or a book.
Strategy 2 - Provide an Academic Incentive
If the activity can be relate to a class, offer a small amount of extra credit for attending the event or joining the activity. For example, if the Biology Club is having a guest speaker talk about genetic engineering, offer the biology class 5 points extra credit on the next quiz for attending. Not only will students come for an easy opportunity to get the credit, but they may learn facts, skills, or applications that will help them do better in the class. Some students may even change their minds about the subject once they see how interesting it really is in real life.
Strategy 3 - Advertise
Even if you announce the event to the class or post an announcement on the school web page, many students will simply tune out or overlook it. Do not just advertise the event, discuss it. Tell the classes about the event and invite them to participate. Send students and parents e-mails about the event. Create colorful posters and hang them in the halls. Then, remind them again once the event is closer. Many students fail to take advantage of extracurricular activities because they do not know about them or they do not understand what they are about.
Hank Foster is a PE teacher and guest author at Masters in Teaching, where he contributed to several guides to Masters in Teaching Degrees.