The Importance of Extracurricular Enrichment Activities in a Child’s Education

Mar 20,2024

Outstanding schools always offer much more than class-based learning. The best schools ensure excellent teaching and learning in every classroom, but they also understand the importance of extracurricular activities to your child’s development. They wholeheartedly encourage your child to get involved in a range of sporting, creative and community activities.

Extracurricular activities will bring long-lasting benefits and great joy to your children. They are important throughout a child’s education and often form the basis of lifelong hobbies and interests. Enrichment programmes also help develop a child’s character and sense of community, which is often another important factor for parents searching for the best school for their child.

Here, we explore the importance and benefits of extracurricular activities for kids and outline some outstanding examples of extracurricular programmes happening in GEMS schools in the UAE.


Extracurricular options in UAE international schools

Excellent schools offer a variety of enrichment opportunities. Their clubs list usually depends on the school facilities and the expertise of its staff. Sports and physical activities are commonplace, as well as some creative options.

Here are some of the most widely available and popular extracurricular activities to look out for in UAE international schools.

  • Team sports like football, cricket and basketball
  • Track and field athletics
  • Dance and gymnastics
  • Racket sports
  • Martial arts
  • Swimming
  • Drama and performing arts
  • Musical groups and instrumental lessons
  • Visual arts clubs
  • Outdoor pursuits, including DofE expeditions
  • Community, environmental or culturally-minded groups
  • Debating societies and model United Nations
  • Technology-based groups

When you and your child choose extracurriculars, there are two key questions to ask:

  • High quality provision. Does the provision provide outstanding opportunities for children of all levels of ability and experience to further develop in this extracurricular area?
  • High quality staff. Is the activity delivered by enthusiastic, committed, knowledgeable and experienced people who will nurture children’s interests and talents?

If the answer is yes to both, then your child will enjoy all the benefits of enrichment programmes. Next, we explore what these benefits are.

Five key benefits of extracurricular programmes

Whether your child wants to play sports, join a club, help the school community, do something creative, or all the above, they will have the chance to:

1. Develop interests and skills.

By taking extracurricular classes in school, your child has the time and space to try out many new activities. GEMS international schools in the UAE are all equipped with a range of facilities designed to maximise the opportunities available to children. They might be in an innovation lab one day, and out on the tennis court or in the drama studio the next.

Providing lots of extracurricular opportunities helps children develop interests for their long-term enjoyment and happiness, nurture skills and talents that may open career paths for them and, most importantly, have a lot of fun at school.

2. Grow social and leadership skills.

Group activities outside the classroom provide alternative opportunities to develop cooperation, teamwork, leadership, communication, and many other social skills. Children engaged in extracurricular programmes interact with a greater variety of peers and adults, encounter different role models, and expand their social circle beyond their class. This is great practice for life after school.

3. Build confidence and self-esteem.

By taking part in extracurricular activities, children challenge themselves while doing something they love. Facing and overcoming obstacles helps your child develop self-confidence. Through extracurricular programmes, children get to develop a breadth of skills and interests that are unique to them that, in turn, builds their self-esteem.

4. Improve physical and mental health.

Sports and dance clubs will build more exercise into your child’s week. The physical benefits of extracurricular sports include a lower risk of multiple health conditions, such as obesity, depression and high blood pressure. Your child will be building their strength, fitness and flexibility.

There are also mental health benefits that extend beyond participating in sports or joining clubs. In general, children who take part in enjoyable and engaging activities tend to be well-adjusted and happier thanks to a sense of belonging and better self-esteem.

5. Create positive habits for life.

Attending extracurricular activities helps build healthy habits. These include incorporating exercise into one’s weekly routine and making time for hobbies which encourage creativity and boost mental health. Children also learn the benefits of regularly and consistently applying themselves to a task or activity, which is a lesson they will take through life.

Three outstanding extracurricular programmes in UAE schools

At GEMS Education, we are proud to offer all three of these exceptional extracurricular programmes within our schools, with each activity designed to promote the benefits of extra curricular programmes discussed above.

1. Community, Action and Service (CAS) Programme

Students undertaking the IB Diploma must take part in at least 50 hours of the Community, Action and Service (CAS) programme to earn their qualification. IB students in the UAE take part in a range of activities including community-minded arts, sports, and volunteering.

There are several outstanding GEMS IB schools in Dubai, including GEMS World Academy-Dubai and GEMS Modern Academy. In Abu Dhabi, GEMS American Academy and GEMS World Academy-Abu Dhabi both offer the IB curriculum.

2. Model United Nations

GEMS World Academy-Dubai hosts a simulated United Nations conference each year. The school invites students from across the UAE to become delegates and represent a nation and debate a whole host of current global issues. Participants must work hard to research the topics and their nation, and get to develop their communication skills, a sense of global citizenship, leadership skills and self-confidence.

3. Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award

The Duke of Edinburgh’ (DofE) Award recognises youth achievement and is highly regarded across the world. No less so in the UAE, where multiple GEMS Education schools, including GEMS Wellington Academy-Silicon Oasis and GEMS Metropole School, offer students the chance to take part. To earn their DofE Award, pupils must dedicate extracurricular hours to a combination of physical recreation, learning a new skill, voluntary service, and a short expedition designed to promote confidence and independence.

Sports Student Running in GEMS Schools

Find out more at GEMS Education schools

To learn more about the benefits of these extracurricular programmes and many more on offer at GEMS Education schools, we invite parents to get in touch for a tour of our facilities and speak with our dedicated teachers to find out just how enriching student life is in a GEMS school.

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