January 31, 2015

23 Energizing Extracurricular Activities Statistics

Read more about Kids and Money

Whether it's Little League, ballet lessons or the chess club, extracurriculars provide kids with a way to stay active, make new friends and explore their interests. Academic types are particularly interested in how organized activities correspond to things like self-esteem and academic achievement, while parents appreciate the opportunity for kids to learn new skills while staving off boredom. CreditDonkey decided to do some digging and find out just what makes extracurricular activities so popular. Here's a look at some of the most informative statistics we uncovered.

© Julius Volz (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Once upon a time, kids' afternoons centered on things like making mud pies, riding bikes or playing catch in the front yard. Nowadays, a growing number of children and teens spend their after-school time being shuffled from one activity to the next.

1. Norm for the majority of kids

With so many different things to choose from, more kids than ever are taking part in activities outside of school. Nearly 6 in 10 kids aged 6 to 17 participate in at least one activity on a regular basis.

2. Parents are paying the price

Keeping kids active doesn't come cheap for Mom and Dad. On average, families spend $396 per year on costs related to extracurricular activities.

3. Working parents shell out the most cash

In households where both parents have solid jobs, spending for extracurriculars climbs by nearly 8%. Working parents part with $428 on average, versus $301 for non-working parents.

4. Athletics are the most popular choice

Developing an interest in sports early on is ideal for helping kids improve their motor skills and foster a positive attitude towards teamwork. Approximately 35% of kids who are involved in extracurricular activities concentrate their efforts on the playing field.

5. And they cost parents the most

Perhaps not surprisingly, parents of students who participate in athletics bear the highest financial burden. Average spending approaches nearly $700 annually, with 21% of parents forking over $1,000 or more.

6. High school is prime time for athletes

Sports-related activities are overwhelmingly the first pick for students once they hit the high school years. Approximately 40% of all seniors took part in at least one sport in 2010.

7. College-bound students

Playing an individual or team sport is a great way to score a scholarship, something that college-bound students seem to appreciate. Around 43% of students who planned to earn an undergraduate degree participated in athletic activities, compared to 25% of students who had no college plans.

8. Clubs and specialized lessons don't fall far behind

Even though sports have the highest participation rates, they see a decent amount of competition from other activities. Roughly 29% of students between 6 and 17 are members of a special interest club or take lessons to perfect their skill in areas such as dance, music or learning a foreign language.

9. Boys are more likely to play sports

Although there are plenty of girls who enjoy playing sports like softball, volleyball and basketball at the high school level, they're outnumbered by their male classmates. When you break it down, 44% of male high school seniors participate in sports compared to 36% of females.

10. While girls dominate in other areas

When it comes to certain kinds of extracurricular activities, there are some that attract greater numbers of female students. For example, in terms of music and the performing arts, 28% of girls are involved in these activities versus 18% of boys. Female students are also more likely to dedicate time to working on the school newspaper, yearbook or student council.

11. Household structure

Having both parents in the home seems to make a difference in whether kids get involved in after-school activities. For instance, 38% of kids who play sports come from families where their parents are married versus 29% of kids living in single-parent situations.

12. Income is also a major factor

For some families, the cost of purchasing equipment, supplies or uniforms can be a major obstacle. Only around 23% of children living below the poverty level play sports, which is nearly half the amount who participate in families where the household income is 200% of the federal poverty line or higher.

13. One group is least likely to be involved

Interestingly, participation in extracurriculars appears to be lowest among children with two unmarried parents. Just under 25% play sports and only around 20% take lessons of some kind.

14. Extracurricular activities can be time-consuming for kids

Certain activities require a larger investment of time than others, which can create additional pressure for kids who are already struggling with a heavy homework load. On average, youth aged 5 to 18 devote about five hours each week to extracurricular activities.

15. Some kids have a more hectic schedule than others

One of the things parents need to be mindful of is not overburdening their children with too many things to do. Unfortunately, between 3% and 6% of kids are spending 20 hours a week or more on extracurriculars.

16. But many of them don't seem to mind

Even though kids today are a lot more engaged in extracurricular activities compared to previous generations, they don't necessarily complain. In fact, 75% of kids who participate in clubs or sports say their schedule is "just right."

17. Kids who are more active may do better in school

Numerous research studies have attempted to prove whether kids who join in extracurricular activities perform better academically. One study found that nearly 31% of students who participated had a GPA of 3.0 or higher, compared to just 11% of students who had no extracurricular involvement.

18. And they're more likely to have fewer absences

There's also a significant amount of debate over whether things like sports or clubs influence attendance rates. The same study showed that 50% of participating students had no unexcused absences while only 36% of non-participants had never missed school.

19. Improve standardized test scores

Aside from looking good on a college application, participating in an after-school activity could potentially work in your favor when it's time to take those intimidating entrance exams. Research has shown that math SAT scores improved by 45 points and verbal scores shot up by 53 points when students were involved in extracurricular doings.

20. And encourage students to stay in school

Teens who drop out of out of high school often face a much tougher road when it comes to finding a stable job and launching a successful career. In one study of 1,140 tenth graders, the dropout rate among athletes was 1% while it climbed to 11% for those who didn't play a high school sport.

21. Participation can contribute to a positive self-image

The teen years can be a dangerous time in terms of building confidence, but extracurricular activities may instill a deeper sense of worth. A study of Iowa graduates found that the mean self-esteem score among those who rated sports as highly important was nearly one full point higher than those who did not.

22. It may also be a long-term predictor of happiness

Playing sports in school can have a lasting effect that extends beyond graduation day. Grads who place a high value on sports reported being 6% to 7% happier with the progress they'd made towards life, career and family goals.

23. Encourages a more active lifestyle

Many students who participate in extracurriculars while they're in school keep up the habit later in life. A whopping 90% of graduates who believe sports are important regularly engage in outdoor enterprises and 44% are active in a sports league, which demonstrate just how much of an impact organized activities really have.

Sources and References

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