Parents throughout history have always sought to identify avenues to support their children’s future prospects, both personally and professionally. But as the world becomes increasingly globalised and competitive, it’s no secret that parents and teachers alike can be guilty of pushing children to study relentlessly. This is why I ask you to seriously consider the importance of supporting your children to strike a healthy balance between work and play, in order to achieve the best academic results and propel them into a well-rounded and successful start to life.
After-school activities like languages, mad science, programming, robotics, 3D printing, sports and the arts are all invaluable opportunities for children to reinforce or support lessons learned in the classroom.
Facilitating a healthy mix of these will offer students the chance to apply academic skills in a real context, or help them to develop the teamwork, creativity and lateral thinking that can translate to better results in the classroom and in later life. Diversification into new disciplines also helps children to evolve in a sociocultural sense and feel increasingly comfortable in their ability to comprehend the dynamic world around them. Participating in physical after-school activities like sport, can in turn lead to better academic performance as a result of increased brain function and concentration levels. Moreover, sport can teach children important lessons like team work and learning to appreciate different strengths in their peers.
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Many parents will also attest that involvement in activities outside of the bell instils children with a sense of belonging in one’s peer community, as well as support the development of valuable personal traits such as responsibility and the ability to include others. Children exposed to various after-school activities also tend to become skilled at time management and learning how to prioritise commitments. Mixing with new and diverse peer groups through after-school commitments is also invaluable to children’s interpersonal development, and it’s not uncommon for those who do more than keep their nose in the books often tend to have greater confidence and higher self-esteem.
Further down the track when seeking to gain placements at a tertiary level or meeting with potential employers, a demonstrated track record of interest and participation in non-academic disciplines can reflect very positively on an individual, painting them as well-rounded and conscientious. Moreover, specific activities help with specific goals. If wanting to secure a scholarship at an overseas university or compete for a bilingual job, having been an active member of a language club in the past can speak volumes for one’s passion and commitment. Learning other languages also fosters the development of cultural intelligence; the ability to relate and work effectively across cultures is key to any successful business person.
From a sociocultural perspective, bilingualism or multilingualism can help children to grasp the full extent of the cultural diversity that exists in this world. They can understand on an intuitive level that we are all unique individuals, with different culturally defining backgrounds and that the world can be seen and described in different ways.
Over the years finite resources and budgets have seen many schools begin to focus less on after-school activities and more on academia, which students are assessed and graded on. While we are unwaveringly committed to strong academic outcomes, we are also passionate about the children to engage in a cross-section of activities and disciplines in order to truly evolve into well-rounded, skilled and cultured individuals.
In Dubai, we have an enviable waterside location adjacent to the Creek, meaning our students can take advantage of a boat house and the array of water sports on offer. In addition to a host of sports, cultural, arts and linguistic activities, SISD is also providing computer coding and environmental awareness sessions, recognising the needs of the future generation.
This summer, whether you’re staying at home or heading overseas, why not try and indulge your children in some new sporting or cerebral activities beyond their regular routines, which are likely to be saturated with computers and other digital devices. Use the quiet time to consider introducing your kids to some new forms of after-school programs to lead them boldly into the new school year!