A few years back Canadian Lottery Commissions ran ads featuring the tagline "Do want to play the extra?" Invariably the unhappy customer would say no, only to realize later just how much he had lost out. A similar situation is potentially brewing in our schools. As fewer and fewer educators take on the joys and challenges of extra curricular activities, we run the risk of missing out on valuable opportunities.
Fortunately there are still many fine people taking up the challenge. Recently our district hosted a regional science fair. Over hundreds of student scientists displayed their projects to even greater numbers of appreciative parents, judges and other onlookers. Following closely on the heels of the science fair came the district elementary badminton tournament. Again literally hundreds of students had the opportunity to come together and compete with peers from all across the district.
These events don't just happen by themselves. They are the culmination of hours of dedicated volunteer service from teachers, administrators, parents and other volunteers who are willing to put in time over and above their regular obligations. The members of the Science Fair organizing committee and the coordinators of sporting tournaments aren't getting overtime for their efforts. Often unseen and under appreciated, these people put in the time for the love of the activity and the satisfaction of doing good things for kids. Our badminton tournament ran hours long this year on a Friday afternoon. Rather than cut it short the organizers stayed until the final shot was played. Their efforts, like those of the folks that put in the time for other extra curricular activities are truly appreciated.
The benefits of involvement in extra curricular activities is well documented. The benefits to students are obvious. Websites like kidshealth.org clearly identify how extra curricular involvement can enhance senses of connectedness, competence and caring in students. There are huge benefits for the adults as well. Extra curriculars allow adults to connect with students in a different setting than the classroom. They allow both students and educators to see each other as people in ways that can enhance and benefit learning relationships elsewhere. For one teacher's list of reasons for being involved in extra curriculars check out Chase march's .blogspot.ca.
Its sad that in recent times extra curriculars have become a political hot button topic, with withdrawal of participation being used as a lever in labour actions. Choosing the extra really does have so many benefits. Here's hoping that the folks who are willing to put in the extra continue to do so for many years to come!