As we approach the start of the new school year, I advise parents to meet the social worker, guidance counselor, and athletic director of their children’s schools. In previous columns, I have given specific examples of the ways in which social workers and guidance counselors can collaborate with families to educate and prepare students for the future. In this column, I’d like to explain the importance of co-curricular activities in general, and the role of athletic directors in particular. 

“Co-curricular” is an inclusive term for activities that supplement the regular school curriculum. Some people refer to “co-curricular” as “afterschool activities.” Some of these co-curricular activities are sports. Generally, middle schools and high schools have their own athletic director, coaches, and trainers. 

 Participation in sports and other co-curricular activities such as music or theater or clubs is correlated with improved educational outcomes. The majority of students who participate in afterschool activities do well, both academically and socially. Below is a list of some of the advantages of co-curricular activities for students: 

  • Students build relationships with others who are not in their academic classes and who might attend different schools. This helps students develop social skills. 
  • Students develop teamwork and leadership skills. 
  • Students who are involved in co-curricular activities have better school attendance. Most schools require good attendance for participation in co-curricular activities. 
  • Students who are involved in sports get regular exercise, and exercise helps overall well-being and learning. 
  • Students learn discipline and time management when they are involved in co-curricular activities. 
  • Students spend their afterschool time in safe, structured, supervised places. Because many parents work long hours, it is important for students to be supervised by other adults. 
  • Students develop talents which will help them later on, as they attend college and enter careers. 

Please take the time to find out about co-curricular activities in your children’s schools, encourage them to explore the available activities, and encourage them to participate.