School activities

Schools in the USA do more than provide lessons. They offer other great opportunities, such as field trips, outside activities, events, after-school programs, and summer camps. These activities are great ways for your children to make friends and succeed at school! Find out how to help your child participate in school activities.

two girls playing with picture frames in a school activity
Photo courtesy of Lisa Krantz

Schools and other organizations in the USA offer many kinds of school activities and other youth opportunities. Here is information about some of them.

Field trips

Field trips means outings from school to places where children can learn things that add to what they learn in school. Some examples are a local museum, science center, or historic site.

Field trips are often exciting events because students get a “hands-on” experience and a break from the normal classroom routine. Field trips sometimes cost money to help with costs. You will be asked to sign a permission form for the teacher to take your student away from the school property.

Extra-curricular school activities

Most schools want to teach more than just academic lessons. Schools want to teach social skills, sports, and other skills not taught in the classroom. These school activities are called extra-curricular activities. Most extra-curricular activities take place within the school but outside the classroom. Students do not have to attend, and they do not receive grades.

Examples of basic extra-curricular activities are sports teams, music clubs, and drama productions. Some schools have many more clubs, such as ecology, speechwriting, dancing, and debating societies. Students can also write for a student paper or be in student government.

Many schools allow students to start a new club or activity. If one of your children wants to start a club with a new interest, you or they can ask a teacher or principal what they need to do.

School events

The school will hold special events. The events may be concerts, sporting competitions, games, theatrical performances, or assemblies. Another example of a school event is an awards ceremony. These special events show what students do and learn, besides typical schoolwork. The school events add to the sense of community that many schools want.

Family do not have to go to these events, but attending can be very rewarding for the student and the family. Your attendance at events helps your student know that you are proud of them.

Balancing school activities with home life

Students involved in extra school activities tend to have better grades. The activities often motivate students to do better at schoolwork because some activities actually require students to have good grades. Also, your student might be more motivated to come to school. For example, if a team member does not come to school, he or she may not be allowed to participate in that day’s practice.

Finding a balance between academics and extra-curricular activities can be difficult. Most schools put the priority on academic success. Students having trouble in one or more academic classes may need extra help from their teachers before continuing with their chosen school activities.

Students must also balance their school work with responsibilities at home. For example, many older siblings take care of their younger brothers and sisters after school. That can make it hard to participate in after-school activities or do their homework.

A student and his or her family must decide what is most important for the student. The school’s priority is usually academic success. But some families may have different priorities.

Making friends with school activities

The two easiest ways for students to make friends at school is to be engaged in the classroom and to get involved in school activities. The more a student is involved in school life, the more their personal interactions with other people will grow. This can help them make friends.

Many teachers help with student interactions when they can. You can also encourage your student to talk to people at school even if they are shy.

After-school programs

Some schools work with other organizations to provide programs after school. These programs vary. They are meant to enrich student academic experiences, provide academic support, or provide an outlet of energy through physical activity. The school guidance counselor is a great resource for finding programs.

There are also programs that provide support for students before school and, in some cases, during the school day. Most of these programs are organized by the school administration. The guidance counselor can help you learn about these programs, too.

Not all schools have programs at the school. The guidance counselor might be able to help you find nearby programs. You can also search FindHello for youth programs near you. Choose your language. Then enter your city or address. Then choose the category “Children & Teens.”

Summer camp

You will find summer camps all across the USA during June, July, and August when schools are on vacation. Summer camps are an opportunity for students to develop skills they do not learn at school. Summer camps help children develop social skills. Day camps happen just during the day, Monday through Friday. Residential or “sleep away” camps host students for several nights or weeks in a row. Summer camps can be one day, one week, or several weeks long.

To find out more about summer camps in specific areas, you can ask at the local school. You can also find summer camps by searching online. Type the words “summer camps in [name of your city].”

Many local governments, nonprofit organizations and religious communities offer summer camps and summer programs. They usually cost money, but most offer “scholarships” (lower cost or free) for low-income or refugee students.