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What Extracurricular Activities Help Students With STEM Classes?

By Clare Schinzel


To most students and parents, grades tend to be the most important attribute to a student’s success. There is so much focus on perfect GPAs that sometimes having a little fun is overlooked. More often than not, students who embrace an extracurricular activity can be labeled as “lazy” or “underachieving.”


Despite assumptions, hyper-focusing on academics can end up hindering students’ potential for success. While grades on a report card can say a lot about a student’s dedication, commitment can also be measured in numerous other activities.


One such example is the role of the arts in education. Visual arts such as painting, pottery, and drawing allow students to explore their creative side. Art focuses on the idea of communicating ideas through an image. Learning to understand your audience and present a message isn’t just a skill harnessed by artists. Psychology and communication degrees rely heavily on being able to accurately communicate with others by both understanding their ideas and presenting your own. Theater can also be a great way to develop communication skills by writing and interpreting plays.


Music is another way students can express themselves while excelling in classes. Like art, music––both vocal and instrumental––requires a degree of interpretation in order to understand it. But more than that, music is a wonderful focusing tool. Studies have been done that required test takers to listen to classical music by Mozart while taking standardized tests. The students' scores did improve, but not because they magically became more intelligent while listening to Mozart’s masterpieces. Music doesn't make you smarter; rather it makes test-taking seem more enjoyable and allows a student to focus more due to reduced amounts of stress. Music is like an exercise that requires both your right and left brain to work together to focus on the specific task in front of you.


While the arts play a great role in helping students express themselves, sports can also be a beneficial activity for students. One of the most important things a sport can do for a child is encourage problem-solving. Sports hardly ever go according to plan, so having the ability to analyze a problem and look for a solution can help students in academic and work settings where issues pop up each day.


Sports also require inclusion and opportunities for teamwork that can’t be practiced as often in a purely academic environment. School settings can often cause students to compete with each other unnecessarily. Sports usually include teams where everyone has an important war to play. Suddenly, instead of each person receiving an individual grade and boosting about it, each person has to come together to meet a certain goal successfully.


Finally, sports don’t only help students in the academic field, but also in the health department. Mental health is a common problem facing adolescents throughout their school year. Sports provide a positive outlet for students to get out their energy through a game. It gives them the opportunity to focus on workings with others and putting aside their scholarly troubles for the sake of themselves and a team. Physically, students who are consistently active will see a decreased risk for cardiovascular issues from adolescence to adulthood.


Although studying is often seen as the sole contributor to good grades, extracurriculars also contribute extensively. From learning to express ideas through art to working together as a team, lessons learned everywhere from a theater to the court help shape a student’s character in the classroom and in life. Unlike a semesterly report card, character is an attribute that students will carry with them throughout their life. So, in the end, sometimes picking up a basketball or a paintbrush can be as beneficial to a child’s development as picking up a textbook.



Works Cited

Musacchia, Gabriella, and Alexander Khalil. “Music and Learning: Does Music Make You

Smarter?” Frontiers for Young Minds, vol. 8, July 2020,

https://doi.org/10.3389/frym.2020.00081.

“The Positive Impact of Sport on Education.” ChildFund Rugby, 14 Oct. 2019,

www.childfundrugby.org/2019/10/14/the-positive-impact-of-sport-on-education/.

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