What is the impact of extra-curricular activity on children’s educational development?

| December 14, 2012


 

Introduction

My report would focus on personal evidence that’s been gathered from my placement at Notre Dame RC Girls’ School. It would explore the grounds as to why extra-curricular activities are a contributing factor to the educational development of a child. Using empirical data gathered from my placement and theoretical theory, the report will outline and analyse factors that are plausible to the above question.  This report would also show the evidence that have been analysed by theories on the impact of how education institution is interlinked with the needs of society. My reports focal point is to draw upon activities executed to improve the learning and development of pupils. My findings are focused on in school activities not going into the broader allotment of independent providers that run youth services and schemes.

In my report the children are referred to as” pupils” this is not a personal preference but because it is used to refer to children within the secondary school and primary school segment. The term, Extra-curricular is a conventional name used to mean, added support to the curriculum that may take place before or after school. However, many now refer to it as” study support” or out of school hours. Throughout this report I have used several of the phrases to cover the whole spectrum of activities within the school.

 What are extracurricular activities and Curriculum Enriched activities? 

After school activities can fall into two exact categories, homework club, outdoor activities, creative clubs and varying from to school breakfast clubs. We then place these clubs into definite categorisations. Extracurricular activities and curriculum enriched activities. What is the difference between the two? Extracurricular activities: are like study support groups for example: homework club, reading club, science club, Maths and drama clubs etc. These clubs are positioned to allow extra time for detailed study and to give a helping hand to students who need aid with their work and study. Lessons are conducted in a fun manner so that pupils would not feel like they are not in school hours.  Whereas, curriculum enriched activities are not there to help with   academic but to give them an opportunity to improve their skills and practice. These activities sometimes take place external places to help with their physical, poignant and communal skills.

There are many arrays of activities that pupils can utilise: dance class, drama clubs also fall into this category as well, singing lessons, athletics club, debating clubs, and arts and crafts etc. The vast spectrum of activities it enables pupils to enhance there people skills, working skills which later in life can prepare them for the workforce. Drawing upon sociological perspective theories, such as the work of E. Durkheim, functionalist theory argues that “The carefully constructed curriculum helps students develop their identities and self-esteem. universal education serves the needs of society, conveying basic knowledge and skills to the next generation” (cliffsnotes.com)

Which pupils are likely to attend these activities?

Research as shown those pupils whom are likely to participate in after school activities are according to Barker et al: 2003 are pupils with educational needs their study suggests that these children with special educational needs (SEN) would benefit more because they would have the opportunity to be amongst other children who are ahead and there they can share skills. Their research in addition states that children who live in deprived areas are the ones also more likely to benefit from the after school hours for the reason that few children from poorer families are not privileged have access to modern equipments at home. Therefore the services provide by the school after hours would give them access to available resources. Alan Dyson from the University of Manchester from his study of extended schools suggests that “In particular, the study found that extended schools were most beneficial for pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, providing stability and helping to improve their chances of learning.” (Alan Dyson, bbc.co.uk)

The logic behind these activities is so that pupils who are under achieving are able to get the one on one attention that is needed to help them. They are also open to students who show exceptional skills in their studies and are able to develop ahead of their peers. The pupils who fall into this category are called the gifted and talented, the gifted are pupils who are working beyond their peers in academic subjects and the talented are those who have practical skills in other fields for example sports and art. Extracurricular activities help students become more collaborative, more complex thinkers. Nevertheless, not all students effectively benefit from the system equally. The work of Everson, T. & Millsap, R. (2005) demonstrated that the level of benefit of extracurricular activities varies depending on the student’s background. Students from underprivileged background gain more benefits from the service that extracurricular activities’ provide than students from privileged background. Privileged student are socialised into a specific type of upbringing that enables them to gain culture capital, whereas, student from deprived background don’t have access to such facilities other than the ones offered at school. Consequently, kids from deprived background don’t gain the full benefit of their selected area of interest.

Before going away on my placement and finding out the materials that were needed to conduct this report. Many people would associate after school clubs with “geeks” and “teachers pets” as they were referred to in schools. However, that has not been the case, reflecting upon my placement the above studies to some extent has been proven in my time spent at homework club. Many of the girls who attend this club are partly there to use the resources i.e. the computers and books. After a constructive conversation with one of the girls that regularly attended the homework club, she told me the reason for her continuous attendance. She said to me is because she did not own a computer at home, this derived from me asking her to go home and continue with her work when homework club was finished because of the little time she had. Moreover, Pupils also likely to attend these clubs are sometimes students who have working parents and or other siblings. For example, in drama club I came across two sisters whom where in different years but both attended the club. The reason for the younger sibling attending the club was to wait for the older sibling so that they could go home together after the club, to meet their parents’ home from work. There are many reasons why many kids attend after school activities but the most common reasons are those that are mentioned above. Also with my experience, the clubs also usually get an influx of pupils who are attending to revise and prepare for exams e.g. I had the privilege of working with some year 11’s for their exam preparation after school in drama club. We worked on “The Crucible” play by Arthur Miller. As an overall judgment it is right to say that all pupils benefit from attending these clubs bearing in mind that they are optional to the pupil and those who would need it the most may not attend.

Who runs these clubs?

Out of school hours activities are controlled by the teachers of the school and are supported by educational bodies. Many teachers give up their extra time to facilitate these clubs. With the presence of the school teacher some clubs are run by practitioners or professionals who are employed to conduct these sessions after school. Drawing on my placement for example Drama club, which is run by a company called ACTive-8 their  “workshops are run by experienced professional actors, dancers and singers who are keen to share their quest for excellence, experience of drama school training and current knowledge of the entertainment industry”. (Activ-8.net). despite the fact that some teachers put in their extra time to deliver after hours activities as charitable, it retrospectively gives back to them.  “The extended school approach was believed to enable teachers to become more involved in a wider range of activities in the school and community, working alongside other professionals and community members. Opportunities for training and professional development were also enhanced through this approach. Morale could also increase as a result of direct involvement in the additional activities taking place in the school or through the general ethos and atmosphere generated through this approach.” (Barker et al: 2003, pg 7)

Benefits of the extracurricular activities  

From my discovery with working both after school and during school, it became apparent from my observations and discussions with some of the girls at homework club and drama club, that extracurricular activity, provides confidence and a sense of achievement amongst students that have attended these sessions. Here are a number of the benefits of attending these clubs:

  • Interaction  Skills: is a vital skill which is later on useful in life, it helps pupils with interaction  skills which then helps them to make new friends and in some case helps them not get bullied in school by their peers. It prepares them for employment and people skills.
  • Contributing in class:this as been evident in my findings, for the reason that many of the girls in drama club contribute their ideas to create their performance. Whilst in class I noticed that those same girls are the ones answering questions even though they may not be right at times but because of the confidence they are gaining through clubs they are then able to transfer that in class.  This helps them across all subject areas to improve their understanding of the subjects better.
  • Commitments: commitment is essential for discipline as this would come versatile for exams, especially for the older girls it is a good practice for when they have left school to further their education. Drama club is a really good example of commitment every week the girls would attend rehearsals and contribute to the class. The club also created a code of conduct that all pupils signed and one of the rule was to be committed to the club unless for emergency reasons. Here they are learning responsibility and taking ownership of their work. 
  •  Applications: after school clubs are a great thing to put on college application forms because it shows that a pupil have contributed and committed themselves after school hours. I have actually experienced this when I helped a student fill in an application form for college and it just goes to show how good it looks. Moreover, it also tells you a lot about the personality of that pupil and their ability to be diverse in their education.

Language

Language is an important part of our society today. After school language clubs are created so that children have that extra time to practise and develop their skill. Notre Dame in particular is one of the  specilaist school for foreign languages. Having this facuality means they have an advantage to make sure that their pupils achieve good grades in foreign langauages.2010 results show that  there were 158 girls entered for GCSE in foreign languages and on average 90% achieve A* – C. ( collected this informaation on the Notre Dame website, on results page) this result was achieved I was told by the deputy headteacher because many of the girls attended 4 or more sessions after school language clubs.

The learning of a foreign language for example, at an early age has several positive effects on a child’s development than that of an adult or a child at secondary school level. Learning a foreign language at an early age has a positive effect on intellectual growth; it gives a student a head start in language requirements for college and increase job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset. A student from a privileged background is more likely to start learning foreign language at an early age because their parents are more likely to be in a better financial position. Effectively they will gain more in comparison to a student who picked up foreign language at the beginning or middle of their secondary school education. Nevertheless, both students will effectively gain from their participation in extracurricular activities. But it’s crucial to point out that other factors such as the background of the student can affect the how each child benefit from the service provided. Bernstein, B (1971) famous theory on language looks at the process of linguistic improvement by analysing the difference between two types of language code. Elaborated code is usually associated with formal setting. In his case study the child that used the elaborated code, illustrated clarity by giving full account of the situation, where as the boy who used the restricted code was limited with his use of language.  Restricted code has static meaning, whereas elaborated code is interlinked with shared meaning and background and it enables the expression of values.

Extra curricular activities are usually inspired from specific cultural and its aim is to develop interest or learn skills within a specific area. Its importance are only recognised and appreciated by those who are aware of its culture. Private school for example, place a big emphasizes on certain type of extra curricular activities such the learning of a foreign language. Simply because it’s believed that the learning of a foreign language develops the child social and culture skill thus the process of learning the language will lay the foundation for the student to be socially and culturally mobile. Atherton (2002).

Extra curricular activates such as art and craft and learning of foreign language develop the child’s cultural capital, by proving education beyond the national curriculum. The importance of cultural capital is that it provided student with the social values of the capitalist, it’s interlined with shared meaning and background and provides understanding to institutional jargon and socialising agencies

This is an advantage for later occupational position in the life of the student because alongside qualification and experience certain prestige companies only employ candidates who have cultural capital and have experience with area.  For example a requirement can be, having the ability to speak a foreign language or being able to play a specific type of sport.

It’s likely that a student from a private school is more likely to have such skills because it was part of their school’s culture. Whereas, a child from a mainstream school only gained that knowledge from participating in extracurricular activates.

Those it can be argued that the process of extracurricular activates is not just about developing the child’s academic development but also developing them socially by exposing and teaching them social values that enables them to share meaning and background of the capitalist.  Lastly it can develop their linguistic skills, which will effectively alter their communication level with their teacher. Robin Nash(“Keeping In With Teacher”) has argued that teachers and pupils interact in the classroom in ways that draw implicitly on concepts of cultural capital (teacher-perceptions of family background being particularly important, for example).

Self esteem

Self esteem defers from one man to the next. Everyone’s esteem if built by the experiences the face in life. So when asked to define this term is really tricky to get a precise answer. According to Lawrence (2006). “self esteem is the individual’s evaluation of the discrepancy between self image and the ideal self.” He goes on to say that “that the discrepancy between the two is inevitable and so can be regarded as a normal phenomenon.”(Chap 3, pg 5) self esteem is a feeling of worth and assurance. The ideal self are visions created by a person about themselves, in a case of a child, being praised for good behaviour and given positive feedback continuously is going to make them believe in themselves which motivates them to achieve more.

This is far the most beneficial gain in extracurricular activities. With its merit it      can be transferred in all parts of life. It is a life long gift that is forever with that pupil.  I really saw this put into practise in the drama club when they did their performance to their parents and peers. Because of the belief that was passed on to them that they could do it and the positive praises the end result meant that they all felt overwhelmed and some actually came to me and told me that next term they wanted to do it all over again. Another example is in homework club particularly when a pupil has spent their time to do their homework and get a really good feedback from their teacher; it gives them the urge to want to get those same feedbacks all the time. Over half of the staff that I came across during my time at Notre Dame stated that after school clubs do really contribute to a child confidence and community skills.

Improving exams and results

Studies have shown that after school activities contribute immensely to the drive and self esteem of the pupil, another great factor of after hour’s activities is that it has proven to have contributed to attainment results. Macbeth et al (2001) study of the impact of study support took a sample of8,000 pupils in 52 schools across the UK their aim was to come to a conclusion that pupils who partake in after school curriculum activities accomplished better grades than they were expected.

Their study also showed that on average the result of partaking in out of school hour’s made an on the whole increase of three and- a-half grades at GCSE level and in Key Stage 3, partaking in after school activities enhanced math’s attainment by half a level and science by three quarters of a level.  These statistics clearly show that the repercussions are not only showing through the behavior of the pupil but also through their academic work.

My subjective observing from doing five full days for couple of weeks showed that breakfast clubs is also a contributing factor to academic achievement. Except, for it being the most important meal of the day, it has in fact revealed that the pupils would leave their house early to just make it in time in the morning to get breakfast if they haven’t already done so at home. This has also contributed to attendance and punctuality of those particular girls which would develop their concentration level in class.  Shemilt, I., et al (2004) A national evaluation of school breakfast clubs showed a mix in results. From the research it proves that breakfast those facilitate with the concentration level of the pupils and rate of truancy. However, the findings also showed that the pupils he observed had a frequency bad behavior. There may be other factors that may have triggered their bad behavior or something went wrong somewhere by the pupils he observed, in my observation from what I experienced in the school that wasn’t the case. I have personally worked with the girls in class and after school and did not find any behavior problems.

Crime and antisocial behaviour

Research have revealed that children who partake in after school hour clubs are not liable to get involved in any violent activities after school or get involved in antisocial behavioural activities. It is proven that children who have nothing to do after school and who’s parent may still be at work  sometimes often  find themselves in gang related activities and are highly likely to commit offences. Whereas after school clubs are a way of keeping kids busy and out of the street.  From discussions with the girls that I have been working with, it was concluded that some of their friends who got themselves involved in after school fights never attended after school clubs because it was seen as a waste of time. This meant that they landed into the hands of trouble even if it was not intentional and many of them were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not suggesting necessarily that after hours activities would entirely keep a pupil out of trouble, however, it would teach them about social skills which would mean that they are less possible to get into  antisocial activities.  Durlak, J. & Weissberg R. (2007). Chicago, IL: research on, The Impact of After-School Programs that Promote Personal and Social Skills, found that children whostay after school and are supervised boost their academic, social, personal and recreational development. Their research looked at three areas school performance, behavioural adjustment, feelings and attitude through these findings they concluded that children who go home and are not supervised are at risk for under achievement and behavioural problems.

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 Conclusion

In conclusion, the benefits of extracurricular goes beyond the process of secondary school, but rather enables student to gain knowledge and develop skills that allow individual’s to gain knowledge to specific arrears which inevitably shapes their further development.  The report has outlined the benefits extracurricular activities have on a student social, emotional, and intellectual development. Several studies conducted have proven that there are factors that contribute to development. The urge of wanting to find out how extra- curricular activities contributed to a Childs development has open doors to many studies and theories. My experience at Notre Dame has allowed me to acknowledge that after school activities contribute a great deal to aspects of a Childs progress. The skills then learnt are transferable into society. It can be argued that the participation of extracurricular activates can effectively develop the overall educational experience of a child development.

Extracurricular activities’ purposely seek to enhance student overall educational experience by exploring new areas or by developing further skills in an area of interest. Students effectively benefits from it via establishing friendship outside the classroom with their peers. Their relationship with teachers can also develop outside the classroom environment which can enhance classroom communication. It is agreed that for every good there is bad. Opposition theories may argue that not every factor may have been taken into consideration for example many schools now ask parents to contribute fees for their children to partake in activities.Where does that leave the children who’s parents cannot afford for them to attended these seesions, it’s crucial to point out that these benefits are influenced by a number of factors such as race, sex and social class. Thus the level of benefit varies on each child personal circumstance.

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