Imagine the pressure that the teen of today feels. Teens are overbooked, overwhelmed and under more pressure than ever. Gone are the days when Mom presented you and your friends with a tray of freshly baked cookies or even Oreos and milk while you completed your homework. In my generation, an hour or two of homework and a bi-weekly book report or test left more hours to walk the dog, watch TV or go outside until dinner or enjoy an after dinner two hour telephone chat with friends. Students preparing for today’s Global economy, competitive entrance to Colleges and after-work experiences may not see the great benefit of being involved in after school activities.
Now more than ever, teens should be urged to join and experiment with after school clubs and activities, community service clubs and school events. Some of the more gregarious teens may already be involved in many clubs and activities. Before your teen even enters High School, connect him or her with others who have enjoyed the camaraderie of clubs, who have met dear friends and who have even added dimension to their college application, which helps in the college application process. By talking with positive peer models who have been club members, even the shy or withdrawn teen can find some benefit in experimenting with one or two activities or clubs. School clubs and after school activities are important for the social growth and development of young children, but are especially important for the teen of today. What better way to stay connected, active and focused than to unwind with peers who enjoy fun and common interests?
Recently, I added High School Orientation for Middle school students transitioning to High School. The Principal invited a group of teens as guest speakers to welcome the Middle school students to High School. They shared how they were excited to join clubs, not only for social reasons, but to teach them better time management. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and disorganized, teens that joined clubs tended to manage time better. Teens were sharing ways to organize time to fit in after school clubs such as The Yearbook Club, Drama Club or Student Government. Each student had a personal anecdote, but all of them maintained that new friendships were the reason they made clubs as priority. Some of the students mentioned how they became interested in new cultural experiences or learned a new skill. Most of the students mentioned the benefit of having clubs on the College application as an added benefit, but not a motivation. All of the students reported that they needed better grades to stay in the clubs. While not all schools require a good Grade Point Average to stay in all clubs, certainly most clubs and sports activities require that the student keeps up his grades, follows school rules and policies and is responsible and independent enough not to lose focus on his or her studies.
High School is an important phase of life where teens define their identity. By joining clubs that expand his or her horizons, it helps define interests and allows bonding experiences for the future. Students have increased interpersonal skills, which help build healthy self-esteem. By building a positive identity, students are less likely to seek negative bonding experiences that my cause serious trouble for him or her with school officials or police. Lasting and lifelong friendships made as a result of clubs and school activities allow for a healthy self-image to transition your teen into a young adult.