Ace started the school year being a member of 5 extracurricular clubs. Now, we are down to 3. Not because he quit – Because they ended. Back in September (I think it was September), I wrote a post saying that I believe it’s a good thing to participate in these activities. Today, 4 months later, I can say I KNOW participating in these clubs is beneficial. I have evidence.
Let’s start with gardening. Ace came home from his last gardening club meeting with 2 pots, some dirt and some seeds. He explained that all the students got one of the plants but the 2nd one was because he had correctly answered some trivia questions at the end of the meeting. “But” he said, “it kind of wasn’t fair. I had an advantage. I only knew the answer to some of the questions because I’m also in the engineering club and that’s where I learned it.” As I am wont to do, we had a talk. I explained that it is not a bad thing to have an advantage over someone if it’s earned honestly. He didn’t cheat his way into having an advantage. He didn’t have an advantage due to something outside of his control; He had EARNED his advantage by going to his other club and listening and absorbing. This was a good thing.
His other club that ended was Lego Robotics. This club was led by the school principal. Due to meeting and working together on a fun project, they developed a relationship that most of the other students in the school weren’t able to do. You know what it was like when you were in school. The principal wasn’t your “friend”. Here, it’s different. Ace feels comfortable speaking to his principal. Even though, he was only at this school for a year and a half, he feels confident in his place there and he feels supported. He feels like his success is important to his principal and that goes a long way in boosting a young boys self-esteem. I am sure that if he (or we) ever felt like there was something we needed the principals help with, we could go to him and he’d help us. That’s powerful.
We are still plowing ahead with Math 24 and the choir (God help me) and Engineering. For now, I don’t have any hard core evidence of benefits from Engineering; other than that this club was open to the county so there are students on his team that he would otherwise not have met. The other benefit I can see on the horizon though, still due to it being comprised of kids from other schools is that Ace goes to middle school in September. That means there will be a shuffling of students. Many of the friends he has now will be at a different middle school from him. It will be yet another starting over. I have to assume though, that he will end up at a middle school with some of the kids he currently goes to school with as well as some he knows from engineering club. That should help to ease the transition to a new school.
Lastly, let me just say that Math 24 is a fun game show type club. It’s not a quiz team that competes with other schools or anything like that. It’s just fun. And games. The side effect of it though is that it has absolutely helped his math grade. When his latest report card came home, the note from the teacher said “… has shown great improvement, particularly in math.” Then as we were talking about his activities on the way to school he said “You know Mom, I’ve gotten so much better at math. Where I used to need to mark things down on the board, now I can do them in my head. And I am faster with my multiplication. I even answer the hard questions now. In Math 24, some things are worth 1 dot and it goes up to 3 dots. Last time, I was the first to get all the 3 dots.” Now, I don’t have a clue what that even means. But it sounds good to me. His report card though … That I understand.
I never put the 2 together before, but writing this post made me think of my friend Uneeb and his Chad List that he gives speeches on. It’s all about opening yourself up. Broadening your horizons. Making yourself more interesting and more well-rounded and how the events in one area of your lead to unexpected benefits and improvements in other, seemingly unrelated, areas of your life. Guess what friend, turns out it’s good for kids too. Pretty darn cool.