Wednesday’s Parent: Adding the extras

Writing is my hobby

Writing is my hobby Photo by Charles J Danoffs

Today’s post is about the importance of extra-curricular activities and I can’t get this saying out of my head:

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Idioms, proverbs, and clichés are common phrases because they are built on a basic truth. I am drawn to practical wisdom that withstands the test of time but can this phrase be applied to current kids?

According to college admission officers, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Sure higher education emphasizes academics. Wednesday’s Parent: Valuing academics post detailed the importance of studies.

But to get into their college choices, students need more than good grades. Activities, honors, and interests feature prominently on college applications. Recommendation letters are mandated and personal essays required.

Colleges want interesting, motivated students who show commitment to their passions and will not just fit in but will contribute to their campus.

And parents want their children to be happy, full-filled and successful in school and beyond. There are ways parents can help their children explore, learn and thrive with all the extras to make this happen:

Interests There are many fields of study that spark an interest to learn more. What appeals to your student? Is there a topic he asks about not because it’s part of a homework assignment but because he wants to pursue it? Find books, clubs, museums, events and other outings to further develop student interests.

Talents Does your student demonstrate a particular musical ability, artistic talent or athletic prowess and a desire to follow it? Nurture this at home, in school and in the community. Supply the instruments or implements and give opportunities to progress with lessons, performances, shows or games.

Hobbies An interest or talent can become a lifelong hobby. From coin collecting to model building, from kite flying to jewelry making, hobbies give students a chance to express their creativity in an area of great personal interest. Parents can share their hobbies and help their children pick theirs.

Volunteering Performing good deeds without pay to help others is a special interest to support a part of the community. Whether it is a lone venture or part of a group, community service indicates maturity and good citizenship. Parents can suggest local opportunities through religious, scouting, school and community organizations.

Jobs Sometimes interests can be transformed into an enterprise. Does your student love animals? She may find a position at a pet shop or with a veterinarian. Perhaps creating balloon animals is more her speed. She may develop a birthday party business or become a regular at street fairs. Brainstorm ways to take an interest to the next level.

Think of helping your child find and develop his passion as a road trip. If academics pave the road to student success then extracurricular activities are the pit stops along the way that enhance the journey.

Read on for Suzanne’s terrific tips about adding the extras.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

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