After the Bell

The value of learning outside of the classroom

Remember your high school guidance counselor? Well-loved books and college pennants lined the bookshelves, and the remnants of a quickly consumed lunch savit upon her desk as you listened to the keys on her clunky computer clack away. Other than nagging you to get your college applications in on time, she likely spent most of her time telling you to get more involved in extracurricular activities, right? After all, colleges love to see that students are still thirsty for knowledge outside of the school’s bells. Your counselor wasn’t wrong; colleges do love to see these types of activities, but the benefits don’t end there. Here are some of the reasons your children could benefit from a little outside-of-the-classroom education.

Nurturing a Social Butterfly

By branching out and joining new groups, possibly those outside of his own social circles (or school district), your child is learning how to cultivate new relationships with new individuals. This also gives him valuable networking skills he’ll continue to hone long into his 20s. In fact, many activities could help expose your child to different kinds of people. For instance, the Bellevue Youth Theatre not only provides kids with valuable theatre arts experience, but it also allows them to work and learn alongside senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. parks.bellevuewa.gov

Strong Body, Strong Mind

We all know exercise — mixed with a balanced diet and a full night of sleep — is important for improving our overall health, and that of our children. Encourage your children to join high-endurance sports teams at school, or choose from one of many Eastside youth leagues, like Panthers Youth Rugby in the Bellevue and Redmond area. In addition to improving, this will help them foster teamwork skills; learn patience; and develop resilience in the face of adversity, which will stick with them for a lifetime. panthersyouthrugby.com

A Passion for Learning

Stepping back from the standardized structure of the school day allows your child to decide whether she wants to delve deeper into a subject she already knows and loves. For instance, a student who excels at math might want to join her school’s Mathletics team to find out whether math is a subject she wants to pursue later in life. This may, of course, have the opposite effect, prompting a student to realize she’d rather explore a subject that is further from the classroom and nearer to her heart. The varied types of programming available are so diverse that no matter what your child is into, she’ll find something that is right for her. There’s even Trilogy Craftclub, an activity for third- through fifth-graders who enjoy Minecraft and want to learn how to build new virtual worlds. trilogycraftclub.com

A Juggling Act

Believe it or not, the more your child has on his plate, the more adept he’ll be at juggling everything he has going on. After all, juggling with one ball isn’t really juggling. That’s not to say he should overload himself with extracurriculars, but finding a nice balance will help him keep all the balls in the air. If you want to further hone these planning skills, consider prompting him to take up chess with Chess4Life in Bellevue. The game will help him think several moves ahead on the board, and in his life. chessforlife.com

From the Classroom to the Boardroom

Surely, the lessons your child learns in her classroom will stick with her for a long time to come — undoubtedly you still mentally recite, “I before E except after C” every time you spell the word receipt. But this is just a foundation that needs to be built upon. To succeed in the world post-school, your child will need to learn how to operate in the professional world. This is where activities that help with public speaking, like speech and debate, come in. There’s also Bellevue-based LEADprep, which helps young women develop their personal brand, grow through leadership development, and build authentic relationships. getyourleadon.com

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is an assistant editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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