The role of extra-curricular activities to your child’s success should not be underestimated. Those pursuits that seem like time wasting or the reserve of the rich and famous can indeed make your child’s application stand out with institutions such as universities and future employers.
A good development of activities builds teamwork, commitment, responsibility, leadership, communication and interpersonal skills – qualities that institutions value.
There is no right or wrong form of activity to participate in, what is important is the individuality of the child and their consistent commitment. There are many opportunities for children to develop a good array of activities, the difficulty is choosing which to pursue.
SCHEMESThere are many available but the Duke of Edinburgh scheme deserves a mention.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (D of E) is an award for personal achievement that can be obtained by anyone aged from 14 to 25, regardless of personal ability. The Award itself has three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. To obtain an award, participants must demonstrate achievement at the appropriate level in various activities in four sections:
- Service: helping the community (for example, working with a charity).
- Skills: a hobby, skill or interest (for example, showing progress with a musical instrument);
- Physical recreation: sports, dance, or fitness; and
- Expeditions: can be by bicycle, horseback, or water, but most commonly on foot.
The D of E takes at least six months for a direct entrant to achieve a Bronze Award; 12 months for Silver and 18 months for Gold. The Award is highly regarded by employers and people involved in education.
Check out www.theaward.org for more information.
Work Experience Placements – This is very important for children aged 15 years and above. Work experience — paid or voluntary, year-round or summer — can help identify career interests and goals. Gaining experience in an industry that the child hopes to enter shows institutions a level of proactivity and dedication. Some schools arrange work experience via Trident, an educational charity that has existed for 30 years to help young people aged 14-25 prepare for life beyond the classroom.
For parents whose schools do not arrange work experience, talk to your friends or neighbours about arranging for your child to shadow them at work or help in the office.
It’s well worth introducing your child to clubs such as The Scout Movement, Boys/Girls Brigade or Military Cadets. The main aim of all these groups is to develop young people physically, mentally and spiritually, so that they may play constructive roles in society. The exact age ranges vary by association but members are typically aged 5-18 years old.
Your child can also gain skills and experience through volunteer work, such as by tutoring primary school kids or spending time at a local hospital. The discipline and sense of advantage at the core of these organisations remains with the children long after they graduate. If your child’s school does not support a particular club, visit your local church; they may be able to assist further.