Extracurricular clubs and activities are very important for students, as they not only look good on college applications, but also foster relationships and provide students with coaches and leaders who can become positive adult role models.
Many studies have shown that students who are involved in extracurricular clubs and activities are less likely to drop out of high school. Participating in extracurricular activities can also boost self-esteem and build solid character traits and leadership skills.
The key to helping students balance school and extracurricular activities is setting clear expectations from the beginning. Make it clear to them that school is their job, and it always comes first. If activities or even an after school job begin to interfere with school, parents should reassess the situation. Students should limit their involvement to one to two extra-curricular responsibilities a day, and allow at least a couple of days off a week to avoid schoolwork interference.
It is also important for parents to be aware of signs that their child may be too overloaded with schoolwork and extracurriculars. Tiredness is the biggest indicator—if your child seems tired all the time, or too worn out to do their homework at the end of the day, it’s a sign they have too much on their plate. Other signs include grades slipping, not being able to find time to spend with friends and changes in personality, such as grouchiness or becoming more worrisome.
If parents notice these changes in their child, it is time to intervene and model good decision making skills for them. If you feel the stress of balancing school and extracurricular activities has begun to cause anxiety problems in your child, it is best to consult with their physician as they may benefit from a referral to a behavioral health specialist. Our community is fortunate, as Cone Health Behavioral Health Hospital has an exceptional team of behavioral health specialists dedicated to providing inpatient and outpatient therapy to students who may need extra guidance through school responsibilities.
Regina Alexander is a licensed counselor at Cone Health Behavioral Health Hospital, specializing in mood disorders. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Greensboro College in 2002, and earned a Master of Social Work from the joint program at University of North Carolina Greensboro and North Carolina A&T University in 2007.