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​The Value of Participation in Co-curricular Activities

As we move into Semester 2 and rekindle so many activities that have laid dormant over 2020 and 2021, I am reminded of the value and importance of students participating in co-curricular and extracurricular activities and more generally in the broader life of the School.

There are five main areas of growth and development that are especially associated with participation in co-curricular and extracurricular activities:

Organisation and Time Management

In order to successfully meet all academic timelines, while at the same time participating in a range of co-curricular and extracurricular activities, students need to prioritize and plan their time. While parents play a key role in supporting their daughters to attend before and after school activities, students are still required to take personal responsibility for being in the right place at the right time with the right resources.

Increased Wellbeing and Resilience

Success for each student looks quite different. Some students receive their affirmation of skills and talents in their co-curricular and extracurricular activities. These opportunities to build self-esteem and confidence, contribute significantly to enhanced student wellbeing.

Participation in new or familiar activities, for which students are not naturally talented, is equally valuable in giving them the opportunity to develop resilience and ‘grit’ and to develop strategies to manage ‘failure’ they may experience along the way. Life is full of ups and downs and it is incumbent on us to prepare our students equally to experience both success and failure.

Relationship Building

One of life’s most important skills is to be able to build and maintain successful and healthy relationships. Understanding how to read social cues, take turns, support others, be supported, experience friendship breakdowns and learn restorative skills, all contribute to our students becoming independent and successful adults in later life.

The development of interpersonal skills is an iterative process of trial and error and continues throughout each person’s lifetime. By increasing the contexts, scenarios and environments in which personal interactions take place, as well as increasing the range of people with which they interact, students are able to deepen their understanding of how to navigate and build successful relationships with diverse groups of people. They are also less likely to be negatively impacted when friendships break down in one context as they still have friends from many other contexts.

Exploration and Identification of Skills, Interests and Talents

One of the most significant benefits of attending a school like Ivanhoe Girls’ is for each student to have the opportunity to explore, free of stereotypical gender bias, who she uniquely can/may become. That is, when a student arrives for her first year at our School, she may already have somewhat fixed ideas about what she is good at, what she is interested in and possibly even what career she may pursue. However, I have seen time and time again the disappearance of these preconceived notions as the years pass and each student really starts to explore new activities, new opportunities, new cross-age groups of students and a variety of adult mentors. It is one of the most delightful aspects of my role to see each student blossom so uniquely as she approaches her final year at Ivanhoe Girls’.

Academic Enrichment

While a few parents are not keen for their daughters to be ‘distracted’ by too many non-academic activities, there are a range of co-curricular and extracurricular activities that provide opportunities for students to develop and refine skills that contribute directly and positively to their VCE subject outcomes. Skills such as public speaking via involvement with Debating, problem solving via involvement with Future Problem Solving competitions, or even musicianship via involvement in Ensembles and School Productions, are all developed and nurtured through participation in the Co-curricular and Extracurricular Programs. We really do offer something for everyone to ensure each student is always being challenged, growing each day in confidence, skills and competence.

Our overarching goal at Ivanhoe Girls is to find and nurture the strengths and talents of each of our students so that progressively each student emerges from our school as an independent, skilled, confident and resilient adult. Broad participation in the School’s co-curricular and extracurricular program, all the way to Year 12, is a great way to add to the strong foundation provided by the School’s academic program.

Dr Deborah Priest