Why Extracurricular Activities Matter

By Ailan Gates 2021-05-06 12:07:07

Get them outdoors and exploring.

In recent years there's been a lot of research about play and having fun in childhood. Having fun whether it’s structured or unstructured encourages all the necessary neural connections in the brain. As parents we can ignite and stimulate our children’s passion for exploration by giving them an array of opportunities to satisfy their need to explore.

Playing outside has numerous benefits in connecting children to the natural world. Outside play enhances your child’s imagination, fitness, development of muscles, strength, coordination, and endurance. If the weather is good, send your child outside and encourage them to really explore their environment. Give them a box or a basket and get them to collect rocks, sticks, leaves, branches, or anything that catches their fancy. This is called 3-dimensional play.

Another benefit of exploratory play is that it’s not prescriptive but rather natural, as children love to go out and explore. To discover all the wonderful things our world has to offer. Our natural environment has a plethora of great and wonderful things to touch, smell, hear, and taste (within limits).

Characteristics of effective learning:

Indulging your child in extracurricular activities is allowing them to engage in play that they do not normally have access to on a daily basis. Having an activity outside of the house, or even outdoors can benefit their learning development in many ways.

Physical development:

The outdoors is the ideal place to learn through movement as they play within unlimited space. The activities can include running, jumping, skipping, climbing, digging, crawling, collecting objects around them, cycling, scootering, and skateboarding. There are also clear health benefits associated with outdoor learning. Children under five require three hours of daily exercise that will ensure bone strength, muscle building, and cardiovascular development.

Personal, social, and emotional development:

Our natural environment where there are endless possibilities for freedom to explore. The space will provide children with the opportunity to extend and elaborate ideas, cooperate, and share with friends.

Communication and language

Quality exploratory outdoor play increases language learning when children are active. Most children’s languages emerge whilst playing outdoors as the opportunity to run around being noisy is invaluable.


In early years, it is essential that children are introduced to songs and stories in their daily lives as both activities encourage children to engage in role play activities whilst stimulating their creative and imaginative cognitive development.


Allowing children to play with their hands with real objects is the beginning foundation to developing mathematical understanding. The outdoors is the perfect environment to develop early math skills as it engages children’s skills through counting, understanding distance, and finding shapes around them. Children thrive from these exploratory play moments.

Understanding the World

Outdoor exploratory play provides children with the opportunity to observe, talk, ask questions, and hypothesise about aspects of their natural environment as they interact with plants, animals, and other natural objects. Children can learn about the weather, seasons, flora, fauna, life cycles, daylight, night, shadows, and so much more.

“Children can draw on the abundant resources of the natural world to develop their creative side and stimulate their imagination.”

Expressive arts and design

Children can draw on the abundant resources of the natural world to develop their creative side and stimulate their imagination. Activities such as building a fort, building a pirate ship, and drawing with chalk or paint can act as the cornerstone for building and creating.

Some parents want their child to have a stellar start in life and try to enrol them in many extracurricular activities and are quick to pass judgement on their child’s ability without fully understanding the developmental range of their child’s age. How do you select the appropriate types of play for their age-group?

  • Unoccupied Play (Birth to 3 months)

  • Solitary Play (Birth to 2 years)

  • Spectator/Onlooker Behaviour (2 years)

  • ParallelPlay (2+years)

  • AssociatePlay (3to4years)

  • CooperativePlay (4+years)


As parents our desire to want the best for our children so they may thrive in life is fundamentally ingrained. We realise that if positive habits are formed in the early years, children will adopt these learning styles and habits throughout their lives. Therefore, it’s essential that we offer a wide range of opportunities to our children so they may become more informed, self-reliant, resilient, successful, and happy individuals.

Giving children ownership of their learning without continuous adult input will instil the skills and habits that will serve them well through all the trials and tribulations of adult life. It will give them the best chance of living a happy and fulfilled life.