THE ART OF LEARNING
Let your child’s interests help him perform better in school
By: PATRICIA CONCEPCION
All parents want their children to be well-rounded. This means doing well not just in school, but in all other aspects of life. Music lessons, sports teams, and art classes are just some of the ways through which we can help our children become more cultured, worldly individuals, both now and in the future. What we don’t realize, however, is that by allowing them to pursue these hobbies, children develop traits which contribute to their performance in the classroom as well. They are setting goals for themselves, building character, and creating patterns in their behavior which help them become better learners without even knowing it. It is these mechanisms which allow them to perform better in school, and turn them into citizens of the world.
“Participation in sports and other extracurricular activities has many positive benefits in the development of a person's character,” says Ben Compton, teacher, guidance counselor and basketball coach at Brent International School, Manila. Among these, he specifically highlights discipline, self-confidence, respect for authority and the ability to handle constructive criticism as the most effective characteristics a child can bring to the classroom. “Extracurricular activities are ultimately a huge part of the overall educational experience.”
What’s more, studies have shown that specific types of activity can help a child excel in different fields. For example, we already know that music can aid brain development in babies, but did you know that it improves reading comprehension in children as well? And with a great mathematical component, studying written music is known to improve your child’s math skills. Likewise, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, dancing not only helps keep the body fit, it “increases cognitive acuity in all ages.” And as for sports, teamwork and cooperation are a large component of any activity, whether out in the field or in the classroom.
And yet, despite all of that, we must remember that children are still just that- children. Make sure your kids always have enough time to play and rest, and when they are doing extra-curricular activities, they are doing the ones they love. “Parents should encourage their children to pursue and develop their passions and gifts,” Compton says, “But it is also good to freely allow the child's natural interests to develop independently.” The trick is to expose them to many different activities. Why not have sports-filled weekend, and then ask your child which sport he/she liked most? That way, you will have an idea of which sport your child is interested in, and in turn, he/she will not get bored or give up. The same goes for instruments: take him/her to a music store, have fun playing with the instruments and ask him/her which one sounded best. Your kids will appreciate your interest in their opinion, and it will make it much easier to convince them to enroll in classes.
“Exposure to a range of extracurricular activities not only gives kids richness to their lives, it also promotes character, and provides the room for each person to be themselves,” Compton concludes. By promoting character, these activities help a child become more confident and thus more willing to challenge themselves to overcome obstacles. And whether these obstacles are in the classroom or otherwise, parents can rest assured, knowing that their child is capable and equipped for what lies ahead.