It’s back to school! For many students, teachers, and parents it’s met with a deep sigh of relief. After two years of varying and back and forth COVID protocols, classrooms are opening to the most normal school year since 2019. And our kids NEED normalcy.
Humans, and kids particularly, are social beings; even introverts crave in-person interaction. School closures drastically limited how our kids engaged with their peers. Many school administrators and teachers say behavioral issues have skyrocketed because of the imposed isolation. Our kids have forgotten how to follow basic classroom rules such as raising a hand to speak, sitting still, and asking permission to use the restroom. Extracurriculars provide an opportunity for students to practice sharing, taking turns, and working together as a team. Having to wait in line to take a shot at a goal can translate into the patience needed to wait until called upon by the teacher in a classroom.
When our kids did go back to school last year, they were masked, spaced 3-6 feet apart, and separated in hallways and on playgrounds. These measures were subconsciously and psychologically harmful to our kids’ mental health as they increased negative, self-conscious feelings in our kids, particularly young girls. A young girl who continues to wear a mask as a shield because she’s become self-conscious of her looks is less likely to contribute in class or stand up for herself. We need our kids to be confident so they can advocate for themselves in the future. Extracurriculars help kids regain confidence through successful problem-solving and collaboration and give them the freedom to try new activities, gain additional skills, and discover they are strong and capable of conquering fears and self-doubt.
Extracurriculars also provide reasons for celebrations and boy do our kids need to hear cheers! Our kids’ worlds went silent two years ago - no graduations, homecoming, sports games, music performances, or plays. All of the events in which the adults they strive to make proud can applaud them were canceled. Kids didn’t hear the cheers of parents sitting in their cars watching the game through a streaming app. Our kids’ self-esteem is at rock bottom because the joy of being a kid was canceled. All of our students need to be back in extracurriculars so we can build them back up and ignite the spark of happiness in them.
It is my greatest hope that this year, we pack the school stadiums, gyms, and auditoriums and give all of our kids the structure to be social, the confidence to be themselves, and the accolades they deserve. This school year, let’s launch a thousand sparks!