Tips for how to encourage shy kids to participate in extracurricular activities

shy kids to participate in extracurricular activities

Activities at school are categorised into curricular activities, co-curricular activities and extracurricular activities. Curricular activities are those which are directly included in the school curriculum, for example, classes, labs, tests, exams, etc. Co-curricular activities are those that are not included in the school curriculum but complement the curriculum. The purpose of co-curricular activities such as science quizzes, mathematics Olympiads, science exhibitions, etc. is to strengthen classroom learning. Extracurricular activities, as the name suggests, are activities that students participate in school which are outside of the scope of the regular school curriculum. Such activities typically do not carry academic credits. For example, sports, music, dance, and drama are extracurricular activities for students. Studies have shown that students who participate in extracurricular activities demonstrate superior academic achievements and grow up to be more successful in their communication and relationships.

Extracurricular activities do not carry credits, or in other words, are not graded and do not find any mention on the students’ grade cards. This is one of the reasons why many students ignore extracurricular activities. They do not participate or do not take them seriously at all. Another prominent reason for students not participating in extracurricular activities is their shy and introverted nature. Some students are shy by nature, while some go into their shells as a result of certain experiences from their past.

Extracurricular activities may not carry marks, but the impact they have on the holistic personality of students cannot be overemphasised. For shy and introverted students, it is even more important to participate in extracurricular activities of their choice. Everything cannot be taught through books or in the classroom. There are numerous critical life skills which students can learn only if they participate in extracurricular activities.

Following is a list of extracurricular activities typically conducted in schools that students can choose from to participate in.

Indoor sports (chess, carrom, table tennis, badminton, billiards, pool, etc.)
Outdoor sports (football, cricket, tennis, basketball, hockey, athletics, swimming, etc.)

  • Social and Cultural Activities
    • Model United Nations
    • Music (musical instruments, band)
    • Singing
    • Dance
    • Drama and Theatre
    • Debating and Public speaking (Toastmasters Club)
  • Hobby based
    • Photography
    • Reading
    • Creative writing
    • Painting and sketching
    • Craft
    • Bodybuilding
  • Entrepreneurship
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Let’s look at some tips for how to encourage shy kids to participate in extracurricular activities.

Find the root cause

If your kid is hesitating to participate in extracurricular activities, try and find out the root cause of the same. This might require empathetic listening without being judgemental and dominating. Understand the child’s reasons for not participating. Is it due to some unfounded fear or just lack of interest, or is there any other reason? Once the root cause is identified, half the battle is won because now you know the exact problem you are trying to solve.

Find the culprit

It is possible that students do not participate because of shyness but because the activities are not fun enough. You might chance upon this discovery during your efforts to find the root cause of their non-participation. Ensure that the activities are meaningful, fun and engaging. Nobody likes participating in meaningless boring activities.

Take baby steps

Do not rush into things, do not impose and do not force your children to participate in activities they are not comfortable with. If you do, you might lead them to turn rebellious. Take baby steps. It is like teaching a kid how to swim. You do not throw them into the water. Start with ‘safe’ activities. For example, let them participate in some non-competitive extracurricular activity at home. This way they will be in a safe environment, performing in front of their family without the fear of being judged or ridiculed.

Start with group activities

One of the primary reasons children hesitate to participate is because of their fear of being singled out, judged, and ridiculed. One way to avoid this is to start them up with group activities. When they work in groups, they are not alone in it. It is difficult to be singled out as team contribution is required. This way they learn to work together without feeling too pressured individually. Team sports (football, cricket, etc.), and team events (group dance, group projects, etc) are some options worth considering.

Align with their interests

Naturally, any kind of change leads to resistance. Making shy kids participate in extracurricular activities is a significant change for them. There are umpteen choices students have when it comes to extracurricular activities. For shy kids, it is suggested to find activities which are adjacent to their interests. That way they will show the least resistance to participate.

Do not judge or mock them

When they participate, do not judge or mock them even if they do not perform up to your expectations. Applaud them for participating and help them work on how to become better. Criticising or making fun of them, especially in front of their peers, can have a damaging effect on their psyche. They might go into a shell and stop participating or taking an interest in any social events. Such scars inflicted during childhood could last a lifetime. Do not even let other students mock or make fun of those students who are participating in extracurricular activities. If you do have to give improvement feedback, give it individually, or at a group level without singling out any individual student in front of the entire class.

Shower lavish praise

Reward and recognition are critical elements to drive change in behaviour and reinforce desired behaviours. Shower lavish praise, appreciation, and applause to kids who participate in extracurricular activities. Over-index on praise, if required. Shy children are many times very talented but do not feel appreciated or even acknowledged. That is why you would typically see them occupying one corner of the classroom away from all the attention.

EuroSchool follows the mantra of balanced schooling wherein we provide the utmost emphasis on student participation in extracurricular activities. Our teachers pay special individual attention to children demonstrating shyness and introversion. All our students actively participate in the plethora of extracurricular activities for students organised on campus throughout the year.

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