Extracurricular activities are a quintessential element of Australian education and from music and performance to sport and community service, the choices are near endless. The benefits are varied, offering the opportunity to make new friends, become part of a team, learn new skills, expand knowledge, boost self-confidence and enhance independence.
As your child nears the end of their primary school education, they will become exposed to an increasing amount of extracurricular activities, so it’s important for parents to understand what they have to look forward to.
Here are some of the more common extracurricular options.
Music and performing arts
Many schools hold productions, often at the end of the year, with plays or musicals comprised of students that perform on stage and assist with behind the scenes work. These are a great social opportunity for single-sex schools to collaborate with a brother or sister school. Most schools also offer pupils the chance to learn a variety of instruments, with specialist teachers available for private or group tuition. Depending on the instrument, students may perform in ensembles and bands. Private lessons often involve preparation for the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) exams, which provide nationally recognised qualifications in music, speech and drama.
Sport and outdoor education
The majority of schools group pupils into houses and hold annual competitions for swimming, cross country running and athletics, with elite performers given the chance to represent their school at district, regional or state levels. Inter-school sport is also common, allowing students to compete against nearby schools in football, cricket, hockey, netball and tennis to name a few. Outdoor education excursions and school camps may involve the opportunity to try alternative activities such as skiing, orienteering and surfing.
Personal development programs
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is offered in several high schools across the country to young people aged 14 to 25, with awards delegated for finishing a tailored program comprised of physical recreation, volunteering, adventurous journey, skill and residential project. The award is completed at bronze, silver or gold level over of a certain time period. Cadet programs are another example, featuring activities such as navigation, orienteering and first aid.
There are many academic competitions open to students in subjects like maths, science and English, as well as in more specialised areas such as IT or economics. The International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) program is conducted by the University of New South Wales to gage aptitude in computer skills, English, mathematics, science, spelling and writing. The Australasian Problem Solving Mathematical Olympiads and the National History Challenge are also available. Debating is another great option, whether it’s an internal contest or testing students against other schools in local competitions.
Leadership and community service
School want to encourage their students to demonstrate leadership qualities, allowing them to apply for positions as captains of a particular area or a spot on the Student Representative Council (SRC). There are normally a variety of leadership positions available, ranging from school and house captains to more specific roles in sport, faith or art. Students may also get the chance to attend leadership conferences or camps as part of their role. Community service is also looked upon favourably and could consist of anything from joining Amnesty International, raising funds for charity or tutoring fellow pupils. Some schools even have dedicated exchange programs where a group of students will visit remote villages interstate or abroad to help the local community, although this tends to occur later in high school.
These options won’t necessarily appeal to your child so it’s wise to see what else is available or whether there are activities your child can get involved with outside of school. Exchange programs with overseas sister schools and international study tours to countries that correspond with a language the student is learning are not only academically advantageous but an excellent cultural experience.
For more information visit www.goodschools.com.au.
This article originally appeared in Aussie Kids Magazine – Which extracurricular activity is right for your child?