“My child, Priya, is busy the whole day; she does not even have time to play with her friends,” said Mrs. Kulkarni, mother of a 7th standard girl student, who was talking to me.  

She went on to say, ‘She goes to school at 7 am, she attends gymnastics and quiz competition practice between 1 and 3 pm. She comes home, grabs a snack, and goes to math and science tuition. At 5 pm, she goes to tennis practice. On alternate days for music and dance class at 7 pm. On reaching home, the school homework, dinner, and going to bed at 10 pm. She is stressed with the busy schedule and I am confused about how to prioritize between her academics and additional activities. Also, soon we will start thinking about her career options’.

This made me think…

While academics are important, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities play an equally important role in a child’s overall development. 

So, what do we prioritize? Do we restrict our children from these activities? How do I help my child excel without stressing him out? 

The answer to these questions Is never easy but in order to understand why there are so integral; we need to understand the division of these activities and understand what they signify.

Curricular activities: These include everything related to your academics. They include everything in the range of theory and practicals. 

Co-curricular activities: They don’t contribute to the academic curriculum directly. They complement the academics and take learning outside the regular pen and paper method. Students are motivated to take part in co-curricular activities during school hours. A few examples of these activities include mathematics or science clubs, essay or debate competitions, etc. 

Extra-curricular activities: These activities are where students can show their interests. Students pursue these activities outside of their school. Extra-Curricular activities include music, sports, and so on. In addition to the academic curriculum, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities play a pivotal role in a child’s development. In today’s article, we will talk about the importance of co-curricular activities in a child’s development. 

Co-Curricular Activities

Co-curricular activities help strengthen the overall understanding of the curriculum subjects. It is pivotal for every student’s development as it  

  • compliments the regular study subjects.  
  • helps with the practical aspects (learning by doing or experimenting)  
  • accelerates the conceptual understanding and learning process  

Co-curricular activities are typically carried out outside the normal school hours and the regular classroom. Most of the time, the school/ college will identify the needs of the students and then choose to provide a combination of activities. Some activities may be compulsory and some be offered to the student as an option.   

For example, athletics, Arts may be mandatory for all classes, whereas activities like debate competitions, cultural activities, and sports may be optional. 

How do co-curricular activities help the child?

Co-curricular activities help in the total development of a child. The child’s personality, i.e., the combination of abilities, behavior, interests, inborn talents, and passion would be unique for each child. Some students may like indoor activities like painting, writing, or reading, and some may like outdoor sports. Some may like science and mathematics, while others may like history, geography, or languages. It is important to understand the personality of a child and accordingly decide which activities to choose.  

A child should get an opportunity to try a variety of such activities at an early age, so they can learn more about themselves. Primary and secondary grade curriculums are developed on the same line of thinking. Teachers and parents play a critical role as a guide to help the child to decide and choose the appropriate co-curricular activities.  After finishing school and college studies, the child will face the real world, so learning through these co-curricular activities plays a crucial role in getting the child ready for their future.  

There are four main types of abilities a person poses,  

  1. Physical ability  
  2. Intellectual ability
  3. Social ability  
  4. Emotional ability  

 Through the combination of academics, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, a child gets an opportunity to develop as a whole.

Let us look at some of the important skills needed for overall growth as well as for a successful career ahead. And how different co-curricular activities can help (this is not an exhaustive list, but noted are a few key skills). 

Skills  What is it  Some Examples of co-curricular activities 
Motor Skills  Movements and actions of the muscles.  Sports, Athletics, Gymnastics 
Communicant skills  Effective speaking, public speaking, listening actively Debate competition, public speeches  
Leadership Skills  Leading the team, taking initiatives and responsibilities; influencing and motivating others Be a Class Representative, Sports team captain, Quiz Team Leader 
Creative Thinking  Thinking out of the box, new ideas  Projects like Science or geography, External competitions, and exams (Homi Bhabha, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth exams, etc. 
Logical and Analytical thinking  Analyzing situations, finding root causes   Quiz competition, Mathematics Olympiad, cross word, etc. 
Problem Solving Skills  Solving problems using various concepts and learning  Games like treasure hunt, Brainstorm 
Social Skills  Collaboration, teaming, developing understanding and relations with team members Team sports, Drama, Team crossword or puzzle-solving competition 
Technology Skills  Exposure to various technology fields traditional or new age  Electronic Circuit design, Computer programming, Civil survey 
Emotional Skills  Understanding emotional strengths, managing the emotions (anger, unpleasant moments)  Sharing moral stories, Musical chair, Empathy games, Shame or Fame game 
Ethical Skill  Maintaining ethics in public places and society. Establishing value system and following the same. Moral and cultural stories, Social behavioral experiences Ex. Visit to old age homes, manage traffic at the signal, NSS activities.  

Parents or teachers can evaluate, reflect, and identify the child’s abilities, inborn talents, and traits, as well as their interests and passion areas. Then choose the appropriate co-curricular activities to pursue. This can be combined with co-curricular and extra-calicular activities. 

The Indian Gurukul Education system  

As a proven example, let us briefly look at the aspects of the Indian Gurukul education system.   

It was the learning center where students stayed at Guru’s (teacher’s) place from the start of education till completion. They used to teach theoretical as well as practical skills. The gurukul system ensured the all-around development of the student.  

  • Teaching and co-curricular used to go hand in hand.  
  • In addition to the core syllabus, they covered art, literature, philosophy, and psychology.  
  • Students and Guru (teacher) lived together in the ashram (school) as equals, without any discrimination. This proved to be a source of great practical learning for social, emotional, collaborative, teaming, and ethical skills.  

During British rule, the Gurukul education system was replaced by the current education curriculum. In this flow, the key elements contributing to the overall child’s development were lost and so was the need for the introduction of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. 

Way Forward

Many of us, like Priya and Mrs. Kulkarni, would be faced with the dilemma of what, when, and how to choose in order to avoid overburdening the child. This gives you some input and food for thought to decide the co-curricular activities your child can take up.   

The factors to consider are,  

– Strengths and capabilities of the student  

– Natural talents, behavior, interest, and passion areas  

– Choice of the available options  

 Dheya can help your child with career guidance, which involves the analysis of a student’s abilities, strengths and interest areas; followed by mapping of the most appropriate career options with futuristic and trending roles. This analysis will also help you decide the co-curricular activities to be considered.   

Dheya also offers learning Labs where kids join from standard 7th onwards to learn what’s happening in the next-generation world and can add it to their list of co-curricular activities.  

Needless to say, our highly experienced and certified career mentors supported by robust tools and processes are helping the young generation to decide career paths (including educational, co-curricular, or extra-curricular activities).  

Let us enable our children to build a strong and Atmanirbhar Bharat. 

Hemant V Bapat
Dheya Career Mentor