17 Best Extracurricular Activities For Kids And Their Importance

✔ Research-backed

Extracurricular activities for kids could promote self-reliance, social skills, and self-esteem in them and aid in learning life skills outside the classroom (1). These informal learning techniques may include athletics, social volunteering, theater clubs, internships, etc. It is common for many people to choose their careers based on these skills in later life. Read on to know interesting extracurricular activities that will keep your kids engaged. However, do not force them to participate in activities they are not interested in.

In This Article

Benefits Of Extracurricular Activities For Children

Extra-curricular activities and games help boost skills vital for the psychological and socioemotional development of a child. They also help in (2):

  1. Reducing screen time due to free time management by learning new skills.
  1. Improving academic performance by boosting brain functions.
  1. Alleviating boredom, stress, and pressure by providing an opportunity to make new friends with similar interests.
  1. Learning the value of optimum utilization of tangible and intangible resources, such as time and money.
  1. Developing resilience, reducing self-doubt, and promoting self-esteem and confidence.
  1. Fostering a sense of commitment by helping set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals at the personal, academic, and professional levels.
  1. Developing teamwork and leadership abilities necessary for personality development.
  1. Promoting an understanding of the concept of different perspectives through group activities.

Participation in extra-curricular activities could also help a child or teenager introspect their interests to pursue a career in the long run. According to research conducted by the US Census Bureau, children involved in extracurricular activities were likelier to be involved in school. As seen in the graph below, children who played a sport were more engaged in school at 38%, while students who did not participate in sports were 34% more likely to be involved in school. Similarly, students who were part of a club tended to be more active in school than children who were not a part of any club.

Percentage of children engaging in school when involved in extracurricular activities

Source: School Engagement Higher for Children Involved in Extracurricular Activities; US Census Bureau

17 Extracurricular Activities For Children

Here is a list of extracurricular activities that your child can take up based on their interest.

1. Sports

Sports as extra-curricular actvity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Children can participate in sports, such as basketball, badminton, volleyball, cricket, swimming, tennis, table tennis, chess, and martial arts, as per their interest and motivation. They can play in the school team or an extramuraliOutside the walls or boundaries of an educational institution or regular course team. Sports activities promote mental and physical health and, in the long run, could support problem-solving, critical thinking, self-management, and teamwork skills necessary for personal development.

Brooklin Erin, a mother and an elementary school teacher, discusses the social benefits of extracurricular activities through her son’s experience. She shares, “When my son went to high school, he was overwhelmed with the number of kids at the school. By joining sports teams, he was able to find peers that had the same interests as him, and ultimately, this became his peer group for the remainder of his high school years (i).”

2. Cooking

Cooking as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Children across multiple age groups can take up cooking. Let them begin with basic cooking skills, like kneading and mixing, that promote gross motor skillsiUse of large muscles and core muscles for whole-body movement for different tasks . Gradually, their learning diversifies, based on culinary methods, cuisine, and creativity. Regular involvement in cooking activities can help your child make healthy and informed decisions about food and eating.

protip_icon Quick tip
Apart from cooking, teach them to do dishes and keep the kitchen clean. It will help them learn crucial life skills and become responsible individuals.

3. Pottery

Pottery as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

This engaging and entertaining creative activity is suitable for children above seven years of age. Involving your child in this stress-reducing and calming art can boost their creativity, cognitive skillsiMental abilities required to learn, reason, and solve problems , and promote motor and sensory developmentiProcess by which a child learns the use and coordination of the muscles and sense organs . Besides, it provides an opportunity to self-express, and could enhance self-esteem and confidence. Motivate your child to participate in pottery competitions and to display their creativity.

4. Scouting

Scouting as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Scouting is an extra-curricular activity that involves children and teens in local community activities such as hiking, backpacking, sports, camping, first aid, and sports. There are some international scouting programs, like SpiralScouts International, where children as young as three years can enroll. A scout group usually has 20-30 individuals and a leader, who involve in several outdoor tasks.

5. Student media

By participating in student media, your child gets a hands-on experience working on school/college/university websites, newspapers, radio, television, podcasts, magazines, and social media services. Exposure to several media types hones their written and verbal communication skills. Besides, working in a professional environment boosts confidence and supports personality development.

6. Volunteering

Volunteering as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Volunteering is a responsible and accountable social interaction activity that children opt out of passion and dedication. Participating in charity and non-charity community services with religious and non-religious organizations, such as hospitals, senior citizen care centers, orphanages, etc. hones self-management and team management skills. It also makes your child an empathetic, compassionate, and confident individual with structured communication and social skills.

7. Book club

Book club extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Book clubs are small communities of avid readers. You can motivate your child to participate in a children’s book club to meet several reading enthusiasts of their age. Book clubs often organize learning activities that boost children’s vocabulary, reading, and oratory skills. Also, the discussion sessions promote public speaking skills necessary to develop self-esteem and confidence.

8. Foreign language

Learning foreign language as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Foreign language classes are an excellent opportunity to learn a new language and tune your child’s communication skills. This activity can also open the doors to new culture and history, which adds to your child’s general knowledge. Speaking and writing a new language can make a child excited, motivated, and happy, which positively impact their personality development.

protip_icon Did you know?
Learning new languages slows down the aging process in the brain and helps prevent or delay diseases like Alzheimer's diseaseiA disorder that impairs memory, reasoning, and, eventually, the capacity to do the most basic tasks and various forms of dementiaiSyndrome characterized by deterioration in cognitive functions such as memory, problem-solving, and language skills (5).

9. Robotics

Robotics as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Children above seven years of age interested in technology, engineering, and math can consider joining a robotics class. Robotics classes have a structured activity-based learning plan that works on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) principles. Participating in such classes boosts your child’s cognitive development, fosters creativity, and enhances confidence.

10. Instrument playing

Playing instrument as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Music is relaxing and calming, and it promotes mental health (3). Children above five years of age can learn to play any instrument of their choice in their school/college or from a private tutor. From mouth organ to clarinet or drums, playing a musical instrument promotes brain development, hones cognitive skills, and builds discipline. Motivate your child to join a music class to learn the basics of playing instruments. They may also join their school band as a part of extra-curricular school activity.

11. Dance

Dance as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Dancing is an exciting extra-curricular activity offered by almost every school. Children can learn more than one dance style and participate in different competitions and events. Motivate your child to learn dance as it boosts physical fitness, sharpens mental skills, develops flexibility and agility, and fosters socio-emotional maturity  (4).

12. Theater

This performing arts activity is suitable for children above three years of age. Participation in drama and theater activities could support socio-emotional and cognitive development. It could even help fine-tune your child’s communication skills and boost their personality development. Motivate your child to join their school/college theater group and learn the basics.

13. Painting

Painting as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Painting is a de-stressing craft that boosts your child’s creative thinking, promotes emotional growth, and hones cognitive skills. If your child likes to paint, motivate them to join a painting class at school/college, or enroll in a professional painting class.

protip_icon Quick tip
To make painting more enjoyable, use fun objects like stamps, feathers, rollers, potato stamps, bubble wrap, droppers, sponges, squeeze bottles, string, marbles, and anything that can absorb paint.

14. Photography

Photography as extra-curricular activity for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Photography is a way to express oneself. Children above five years of age can learn basic camera functions. Once your child is older than eight years, they can learn advanced photography techniques. If your child likes clicking pictures, then motivate them to take it up as an extracurricular activity. It could help boost their cognitive skills and also nurture creativity.

15. Environment club

Joining an environment club and engaging in activities such as gardening promotes teamwork, personal management, and communication skills. Most schools/colleges have an environment club responsible for spreading awareness about eco-friendly techniques and methods to alleviate environmental issues. If nature and its conservation interest your child, then an environment club is a perfect choice for them.

16. Yoga

The practice of yoga and mindfulness has demonstrated positive effects on the overall well-being of school-age children, typically ranging from 6 to 12 years old. In this age group, yoga contributes to enhanced balance, strength, and aerobic capacity. Moreover, the practice of yoga and mindfulness extends psychological benefits to children. Specifically, it has been observed that yoga can enhance focus, memory, and academic performance. Additionally, it plays a role in alleviating anxiety and stress among children (6).

17. Debate club

Engaging in debate activities plays a crucial role in fostering critical thinking skills, teaching children effective expression of their opinions, and instilling confidence in public speaking. Participation in debates contributes to developing research skills, as it often necessitates in-depth exploration of various topics (7). Additionally, debating empowers children to enhance their conflict-resolution abilities and learn the art of expressing thoughts respectfully. A debate club is a valuable platform for preparing your child in these essential aspects.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many extracurricular activities should a child be involved in?

Though there is no fixed limit on the number of activities a child can engage in, many children can manage around two to three activities. However, observe whether these activities affect your child’s sleep, homework, or time spent with family and friends. If any of these areas are affected, it may be wise to cut back on one or more extracurricular activities.

2. When should children start extracurricular activities?

More than age, your child’s interest, and personality would be a better determiner of whether they are ready to participate in extracurricular activities. Since some children display maturity and interest in specific hobbies from a young age, they can be encouraged to pursue these activities in an age-appropriate manner.

3. Can extracurricular activities be a source of stress for kids?

Extracurricular activities can sometimes be a source of stress for kids. While these activities offer numerous benefits such as skill development, social interaction, and personal growth, they can also create added pressure and stress due to engaging in too many extracurricular activities, high expectations, competitiveness, struggle with time management, and peer pressure.

4. Are there any risks associated with participating in certain extracurricular activities?

Activities such as sports, dance, martial arts, or outdoor adventures carry a risk of physical injury. Intense competition, performance pressures, or demanding training schedules can contribute to emotional and psychological stress for some extracurricular activities. Lastly, overcommitment to extracurricular activities can impact a child’s academic performance.

5. How can parents support their child’s extracurricular activities without becoming overly involved?

Encourage your children to take ownership of their extracurricular activities, set goals, and manage their commitments. Offer guidance and support, but allow them to navigate their experiences. Regularly check with them to understand their experiences, challenges, and achievements. Ask open-ended questions and listen actively to show your interest and support.

Extracurricular activities for kids like sports, cooking, pottery, painting, scouting, volunteering, music, and dancing offer learning opportunities for them outside of formal education. Participating in these activities will also help in your child’s physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development. It also makes them more confident, dependable, and responsible individuals with distinct personalities. However, you must not compel your child to participate in any activities. Instead, allow them to try out several activities until they discover their preferred activity.

Infographic: Extracurricular Activities For Children

Besides school, academics, and examinations, children need a hobby or activity to keep them physically and mentally fit. An extracurricular activity can help your child stay active and stress-free and also help them grow into well-rounded individuals. So here are a few fun and easiest ones to explore.

skills to aid your childs holistic growth (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Extra-curricular activities will help your child improve academically, become a good team player, and develop confidence.
  • For children who love arts, instrument playing, painting, and dance are good choices.
  • New language learning and the study of robotics are interesting extracurriculars too.
  • If they are adventurous, they could try scouting or photography.
Extra-Curricular Activities For Kids_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team


Children learn several crucial life skills when they are involved in extracurricular games. This video explains everything that your child can gain by participating in them.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Jennifer A. Fredricks and Jacquelynne S. Eccles; Participation in Extra-curricular Activities in the Middle School Years: Are There Developmental Benefits for African American and European American Youth?; Springer Link
2. Extra-curricular Activities; KidsHealth From Nemours
3. Music and health; Harvard Health Publishing
4. Philosophy Underlying the Standards for Dance in Early Childhood
5. The Brain Benefit of Learning Second Language at an Early Age; Novak Djokovic Foundation
6. More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children; Harvard Health Publishing
7. Benefits of debate; American Debate League

Was this article helpful?
Like buttonDislike button
The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri, popularly referred to as ‘The Celebrity Shrink,’ is an award-winning neuro-psychiatrist and mental health advocate with over 15 years experience. She is the medical director and psychiatrist-in-chief at Pinnacle Medical Services. She has created the innovative mental health app in Africa, HOW BODI. Dr. Kadiri is a Goldman Sachs Scholar on Entrepreneurial Management of Pan Atlantic...read full bio