It might seem counter-intuitive, but being involved in other activities can have a positive effect on students’ academia. Sports, hobbies which students do alone or with others are places that students can build certain skills and ideas which can help them within their academia and later in life.

Sports can help a student learn about teamwork, sportsmanship (winning graciously, being honest, practising self-control), and how to deal with losing. A lot of sports involve a group (maybe of differing ages) of students. Learning about how without the involvement of the whole team, they will likely not win, is an important lesson for students to learn. For example, in soccer or basketball, if you have one player who will not pass the ball when they should, that team will likely not win. This is for the simple reason that the other team will pick up on that behaviour and will spend more time blocking the player who will not pass the ball. But, if the entire team keeps the ball moving, the other side will not have the advantage of knowing where the ball is going. Sportsmanship can be a difficult concept to pinpoint. Generally, it is used to mean your behaviour on and off the court. This includes how you behave to the other team (and yours) and being honest with what you saw (do you really want to win based on a lie?). Practising self-control can be hard especially if your team is losing. It can be tempting to take your frustrations out on the other side or your own, but this is not a good idea. This can lead to your teammates resenting that behaviour and not wanting to be friends with you or taking out their frustrations on others, creating a vicious cycle. The cycle does not create an environment where players want to do their best and can be more detrimental to everyone than practising self-control and learning how to deal with frustrations in positive ways (taking deep breaths, focusing on the positives of the game, etc.). If you do not think you can control yourself, ask your coach to take you out of the game to take some time to cool down. Lastly, while everyone thinks that when they play, they will constantly win, this is not the case. Learning how to deal with losing is an important part of participating in sports. There are many ways to deal with losing including focusing on what you/the team did right, figuring out what went wrong and working on strategies to fix it (without pointing fingers), shrugging it off (often easier said than done) or a whole host of others. It’s important to learn how to deal with situations that do not go how you wanted them to as this is a vital skill to have in life. Students who play sports can implement the concepts above to their academic successes as well. For example, doing group projects involves a lot of teamwork and learning how to deal with failing a test can be similar to dealing with losing a game.

Having hobbies that one can do on their own (e.g., reading, photography, painting, making collections, playing an instrument outside of school, etc.) can teach students how to occupy themselves. Teachers will not be able to spend all of the class time with one student, so it can be important to know how to occupy yourself. For example, if you finish a test early, you might be able to take out your book and read (after you hand in your test, of course) or if the teacher is busy helping students with assignments you have already completed, you can practise the fingering positions for your instrument, so your muscles get more practise.

Clubs, like debate, glee, chess, etc., help students interact with people of different levels of ability and can help student learn how to teach what they know. It is often said that you do not know a topic until you can teach it to someone. These clubs provide a perfect opportunity to teach and be taught. By helping your club-mates, you are improving your skill and learning how to explain concepts in different ways.

Hobbies which can be done with others, such as birdwatching, hiking, dancing, volunteering, etc. are a great place to meet different people (perhaps of different age groups). Most of the same principles apply as with sports, (being fair, learning teamwork, how to deal with not being able to do something, etc.), but also hobbies done with other people can help student learn that, often, problems have many different solutions, and that the solution depends on the person. For example, if a group of people is birdwatching and is trying to see a rare bird, the younger members might climb a tree to get a better view, while the older ones might decide to circle around. Similarly, if hiking as a group, the more experienced hikers might decide to take a more dangerous route, while the less experienced ones decide to go around and meet up later.

Helpful Hint

It’s important to pursue hobbies or activities you are interested in. If you pursue something that you are not interested in, you probably will not have a lot of fun.

Managing all activities and their schoolwork will teach students about time-management. This very important skill will be beneficial when the student has to transition to their career. Time management is a skill that is best to learn as soon as is feasible, as starting to apply it later in life can make it harder to succeed. For example, a student learns how to balance their schoolwork, after-school sports, and debate clubs. Later in their life, when they need to juggle their job, a family, the family’s busy schedule and housework, the student already has the skill they need and just needs to apply it to different situations. 

While seemingly counter-intuitive, having activities outside of school helps students learn key skills which can help them in their academia and later in life. Activities and hobbies outside of school help students not only learn how others deal with certain problems, but how they would like to go about dealing with them. And, ultimately, how to use already existing methods or skills to deal with completely new problems. Sometimes, even without registering them as problems.