The Extra from Extra-curricular
Dec 21, 2017

While academic performance is of course important, parents also need to focus on the extra-curricular activities their children are being exposed to at school.

Lily Naiker’s fascination with theatre and film began in her school’s drama class. The interest grew and today she’s about to complete her degree in filmmaking. It’s a trend that commonly features in the biographies of some of the world’s most recognised artists, musicians and athletes.  After all, a child’s school years are crucial in exploring and understanding their likes and dislikes.

Supporting academic performance

A common concern about extracurricular classes is that they can come in the way of academic performance. But students like Lily highlight that if treated correctly, activities like sport, music, art and drama can not only co-exist but complement the academic curriculum.

“For me, going to drama class helped balance the more theoretical subjects I was doing like maths, English and Science and allowed me to balance formulas and essays with creativity,” she said.

Students like Lily not only juggled the varying needs of their core subjects and extracurricular work, but excelled in them and schools are starting to take note. A perfect example is the Melbourne Grammar School where the term “co-curricular” has been adopted.

"It's part of the education experience," headmaster Roy Kelley told the Australian Financial Review.

Kelly is correct. Enrolling children into schools that offer a holistic educational experience with plenty of extracurricular options is critical in shaping their future. This becomes even more important as children progress to senior years. Although the temptation to pull the plug on anything other than the HSC is certainly there for parents, it’s more important now to give children exposure to all kinds of fields to assist them in deciding what they wish to pursue after school.

Skills beyond the classroom

Where theoretical skills are best learned in classrooms, qualities like leadership and teamwork often come out in other settings. It’s important for schools to support students in pursuing these qualities through outlets like public speaking or the Duke of Edinburg. Interacting with their peers in environments where strict classroom rules do not apply, allows them to practically understand the concepts of respect and collaboration.  

Preparation for the ‘real world’

Even if a student chooses not to pursue their extracurricular interests beyond school, taking part in debating, choir or mooting can help develop essential inter-personal skills that will enable them to transition into university and jobs. Not only can these additional skills look good on university and job applications, but they also allow students to interact with a broader group of people.

“I’m so glad my school exposed me to drama because I don’t think I would be studying what I am if it weren’t for that,” Lily said.

“By the time I was in the HSC, it wasn’t just something I did on the side but a subject that I did well in and contributed to my ATAR.”