Extracurricular Activities Teach Kids Real-Life Skills
November 7, 2005
In the classroom, teens learn a set of academic skills, but according to Reed Larson, a University of Illinois professor of family ecology, extracurricular activities teach teens real-world skills.

They learn to work toward a goal with other people, and as they do, they're often engaged in the messiness of real-world tasks and assignments -- and they're highly motivated because it's an activity they've chosen to do.

From Larson's research he learned that when teens were taking part in organized activities, they reported feeling more challenged and motivated than at any other time in their day.

Larson says that because unstructured leisure can account for up to 50 percent of an adolescent's free time, says Larson so extracurricular clubs and programs can give teens a more productive way of spending time with their peers than just "hanging out." Larson says it's easier to get children involved in activities before they hit adolescence, but the key is to offer lots of choices -- some kids like sports, others like drama, music or media arts programs, and still others prefer service activities.