The Importance of Extra-Curricular Activities

Go above and beyond with Vice Principal Niki Meehan.

by Anna Dixon | Tue, May 23, 2017

Whether you leapt at the chance of joining after-school activities, or were one of those kids who had to be dragged into attendance, there's no doubt that there is a certain level of importance that lies within the benefits of extra-curricular activities. Join Parents&Kids as they speak with Niki Meehan, Vice President of The British International School Shanghai Puxi, on clubs, facilities and the development of childrens social skills.

 

P&K: Can you tell us a little about some of the extra-curricular activities that you are most proud of?

NM: We want to provide all our students with the chance to extend their learning beyond the formal curriculum and so offer an extensive range of extra-curricular activities. Students can explore new interests or follow their passions and pursue their specialisms. Sport, Drama, Music, Arts, Technology, Debating – there is something for everyone. Our students can even take part in virtual ECA’s where they link with peers in our 43 NAE sister schools across the world. We are also proud of our service and citizenship focused ECA’s where students can get involved in projects such as  working in a local school for migrant children, preparing and taking part in Model United Nations events, or planning fundraising and awareness campaigns for a range of local and global charities.

 

P&K: Do you find your clubs and facilities to be a big draw for families making the all-important decision of where to send their children to school?

NM: Like our parents, we want our children to have a balanced and rounded education which supports their academic, social, physical and mental development. So, having the scope to take part in so many activities on-site is a very attractive offer for our students and parents. The school acts as the “hub” where everything takes place. This makes life easier and more secure for the children – they know the school and can quickly develop friendships outside of the classroom. But is also makes life easier for parents as they have a one stop destination for all their children’s activities and avoid facing the challenge of looking and travelling elsewhere in the city.

P&K: How important do you think extra-curricular activities are for children in terms of development and social skills?

NM: Exploring new activities and working hard to extend your skills are really important for every child’s social and personal development. We want to ensure children develop a growth mindset where they are open to being challenged and stretched, confident to cope with new experiences and resilient enough to face the unexpected. When you develop a talent and work hard for a result, it feels great. When you fail and learn that you can bounce back, you feel more confident in yourself because you understand that you have resilience. We also learn to cope with feelings of pride and disappointment and to learn to process them in healthy ways. Involvement in creative or competitive activities, also allows children to make mistakes and understand that mistakes are a regular part of the process of learning. And most importantly, many activities are collaborative in nature and so children practise working together, sharing responsibility, and compromising with others to accomplish a common goal.

 

P&K: Do you ever see children trying to take on too much, between their school work and after school clubs?

NM: Finding a healthy balance between work and play is a hard task for many of our busy students and their parents. We are all ambitious for our children and want to give them every opportunity in school and beyond school, but it is always important to remember that children of all ages also need to have plenty of rest and also unstructured time where they can simply relax, unwind and refuel for their busy lives. This is very important for older students managing the stress and time demands of the IB programme but also for our youngest children who need to learn to be independent in their play rather than having all activities directed by an adult.

P&K: Aside from the more common clubs like swimming, football and drama, do you have any more unique clubs or programmes?

NM: Our students and staff have the unique opportunity to learn from the best through our partnerships with The Julliard School (world renowned conservatory for the performing arts in New York), MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and UNICEF. Through these programmes children have both and in-out of school opportunities to work with alumni and teachers of these elite schools and organisations and to take part in very exciting Arts, STEAM and global citizenship projects; master music, drama and dance classes; coding and robotic workshops; Julliard virtual choir with our 43 schools globally; workshops and summer schools in USA at Julliard School or MIT; Global Challenge with UNICEF. These are just some of the exciting activities currently on offer and we are always building in new experiences.