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Curriculum Wars: Academics vs Extra-curriculars; Keeping the balance

We live in a very traditional society and until now, majority of Nigerian schools, parents and stakeholders in the education sector see academic work as the true representation of intelligence and wisdom

Thus, a child is not considered intelligent if they do not ace all their papers, especially Mathematics, English, Sciences etc. As such, the focus has become so streamlined on success in schoolwork that any other ‘distraction’ would not be tolerated. For such a mindset, extracurricular activities would likely fall in this category of distractions. The downside to this however is that we succeed in raising a generation of academically smart but socially unintelligent children who eventually find it hard to stand out on life’s biggest stages. 
Let us review some research on the implications of extra-curricular activities on the academic performance of students? A U.S study revealed that students who pursue extra-curricular activities get better grades than students who are not interested in extra-curricular activities. The same research also indicates that individuals achieve better grades in studies when they participate in numerous extra-curricular activities, independent of the backgrounds from which they come. Now this should strike you to conviction as to how important extra-curricular activities can be to an individual. In addition to better exam grades, the activities also have a good impact on students’ personalities, shaping their behaviour and attitudes towards life.
Extra-curricular activities normally take place in groups that allow the students to develop their competitive nature, encouraging them to conduct themselves better in a community. The activities come in different forms, such as participation in athletics, boardgames, music, painting, drama, sports, and other school and college social events. Extra-curricular activities also help to improve the learner’s leadership skills. By participating in such activities, the student would shine in a career, while retaining their usual interest in academic study. Students seeks balance between extra-curricular activities and academic interests, which will positively contribute to their learning development and their future plans. 
Below are some of the ways that will help to build a better balance between academics and extra-curricular activities:
Choosing a specific extra-curricular activity.
Can a student get better at any type of extracurricular activity? Yes surely!! In such an activity they should develop participatory spirit but allocating significant amount of time to the activity is also very important and choosing the best specific activities for participation too. When the stress to bring better grades in the studies for various subjects continues to grow, it would not be possible to take up every available activity in the colleges and schools in extra-curricular programs. With this, it is crucial that the student chooses one or two activities, but must ensure that they have a fundamental interest in the specific activities chosen. If the student is interested in engaging in debates and writing essays, choosing each of these interests and creating a plan to enhance these activities would become suitable for them. The student must devote a set time during a specific day to the practice of writing debates and essays at home or in the hostel.
Creating a timetable to strike a balance 
Some students build their timetable to learn subjects such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc. but they neglect that maintaining a regular schedule for the practice of extracurricular activities in both things could create balance. As with regular reading of books for various topics, extracurricular activities require daily practice. It keeps interest alive in activities such as devoting time to the students and finding ways to excel in these activities. For example, if a student is interested in playing Chess, daily practice of the sport gives them the opportunity to play better and free from mental stress. The student could set a certain amount of time per day for daily practice and during this, they could refine their defending, attacking, and thinking skills, which are very important parts of the game.
Leadership is Key 
Leadership is the first mandatory requirement in every sort of extracurricular activity. If a student displays leadership in these events, it demonstrates that their acts in academics and extracurricular activities have been well balanced. Once again it shows that the student has the right level of investment in both the valuable aspects of their personality and career development overall. Extra-curricular activities give the opportunities to grow skills and the student could meet the desired goal for their career with leadership initiatives. Research has shown us that extra-curricular activities build interest in the students and motivate them to engage more in academic research. Such exercises are only instrumental in keeping everything integrated for better accomplishment.
In conclusion, we can denote that academic-based activities are very important to an individual as it makes a person smart and literally clever, and that extra-curricular activities acts as a catalyst to the reaction of academics on the individual as it converts the smartness and book-cleverness of the person to intelligence which then make the person brilliant in other aspects of their career whilst retaining the interest of academics and the extra-curricular activities they are involved in.
It is surely a beautiful thing to be able to keep the balance between academics and extra-curricular activities. A student who is well-balanced between academics and extra-curricular activities is a very great asset to the community.

About The Author

Peculiar Adeyemi works with the Dinamico Consulting’s Capacity Building & Development team as an academic and extra-curricular activities instructor.

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