Advice Column, Child, Education, Parenting, Tween & Teen

The critical link between extra mural activities and effective learning

Let’s consider what it takes to transform rough diamonds into the magnificence that we admire in beautifully polished, sought-after stones.  Taking a ‘rock’ and making it into a thing of beauty involves processes that take place in several stages. At each stage, the diamond cutter or jeweler uses specific tools and applies different methods to bring out the unique diamond waiting within. Cindy Glass, Owner and Co-Founder of Step Up Education Centres says, “Just imagine what we would achieve if we allowed multifaceted opportunities of learning to shape and mold our children into the magnificent, unique beings they were born to be!”

The very essence of being human means that we are not one-dimensional beings. We have bodies that move and an ability to think, act creatively and with great imagination, if we are allowed and encouraged to do so. “Why is it, then, that we define education in terms of academics and academic achievement alone?  Why do we place so much emphasis on sitting quietly and learning from texts? What would become of a diamond’s potential if only one of the many processes was prioritised over the others?” Cindy asks.

She adds that extra mural activities that involve the arts, drama, music or sports are essential to the holistic development of young minds and bodies. She emphasises the fact that children who participate in extra mural activities benefit from making new friends, finding their talents, developing self-confidence, learning social skills and increasing problem-solving and critical thinking skills.  In addition, exercise ensures a healthier lifestyle, greater body confidence, a more positive outlook on life and learning, and reduced anxiety and stress. “Children who are relaxed, confident and happy are more effective learners!” says Cindy.

She gives 6 helpful tips to encourage your child to participate in extra mural activities:

  1. Be excited about the available opportunities: Help your child to choose an activity that they would enjoy. Consider your child’s strengths and weaknesses and choose an activity that would add value to your child’s positive growth and development.
  2. Allow your child to make the decision: This is not about what YOU would enjoy or what you THINK your child would enjoy. Respecting differences and preferences in our families will go a long way to fostering an environment of holistic education.
  3. Encourage and insist on commitment: Unless there is a solid reason for needing to pull out of an activity (the activity is not adding any positive value). This will teach your child valuable skills in responsibility, determination and resilience.
  4. Practice makes perfect: Remind your child that learning anything new can take time and patience.
  5. Encourage creativity and imagination, determination and effort: Never forget that extra mural activities are there to encourage growth and learning. Your child is not a professional actor, artist, musician or sportsperson. Encourage fun and participation, sportsmanship and integrity.
  6. Balance is key to effective holistic learning: Academic and extra mural activities go hand-in-hand. Do NOT expect your children to do more than they are able to. This is just counter-productive and will lead to a negative learning experience. Each child is different, but nobody can keep up a schedule that leaves no room to just rest and breathe.

“Just like a diamond needs a variety of processes to become a polished gem. So our children need to participate in a variety of activities to reach their full potential. Go for it!” Cindy concludes.

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