Holistic child development, educationally speaking, addresses a variety of student growth areas that schools aim to advance in the educational lifetime of a student. These include not only the intellectual aspects of a child’s growth, but development of the moral, spiritual, emotional, and physical arenas – all integral to the development of the ‘whole child’. And this leads to setting up curriculum for extra-curricular activities in schools. Co-curricular activities have also acted as a catalyst for the promotion of national integration, coexistence, cultural values, and general health and well-being in many countries. Whether they focus upon sports, arts, music, or other areas, co-curricular activities play a significant role in students’ overall holistic development, as well as screening talents among children and young learners, which highlights their significance within the school systems.

Extra-curricular activities: a holistic way to child development

Why students drop out

Now, think about a child, growing up in an urban slum and going to the local municipal school. The child faces the pressure to contribute to household income as he belongs to a resource-poor home and sometimes doesn’t have the means to study beyond Grade 10. The municipal school he goes to also doesn’t facilitate adequate exposure to future career options. Hence, school becomes boring leading to drop out.

Extra-curricular activity leads to a sense of purpose

While arts and sports is known to make a significant difference for children and youngsters in general, it plays an even special role in the lives of underprivileged children who are often bereft of opportunities, facilities, creative spaces and personal attention. Several organisations have realised the supremacy of arts and sports and are leveraging it. Many are using the medium of arts and combining them with education to help underprivileged youth find their niche. Through several projects that cater to different sections, these organisations are working towards helping youngsters explore their talents and giving them a platform to express themselves.

Physical and emotional contribution of sports in child development

A nation-wide study conducted in 2016 by a leading sports education company had revealed that every third child in India has an unhealthy BMI, and only schools with more than three sessions of physical education have fitter children. The enrichment of physical, emotional, social and mental development of children is the most important contribution of sports.

Unfortunately, for many children, the opportunity to discover and grow through sport is unavailable, robbing them of some of the greatest experiences of childhood. More than 90 percent of India’s youth never use a playground, and less than 1 percent of the country’s population under 35 has any access to organized sports. The worst affected here are children, especially those from the underprivileged sections, who drop out of school either due to poverty or in order to contribute to the family income.

How Salaam Bombay is contributing to holistic child development

Salaam Bombay Foundation’s Academy of the Arts focuses on innovatively harnessing the potential of Arts as a tool of education to bring about the overall well being of youth from lesser-privileged backgrounds. Through after-school programmes, it offers them personal and economic empowerment through experiential platforms of learning. The Academy has also been giving underprivileged youngsters a chance to improve their career prospects enabling them to pursue part-time employment while studying in school. The training they have received at the Academy has led to scholarships and part-time jobs, and the income it generates has fuelled education and countless other dreams. An in-house study this year by the organisation has even found a stark difference in the school attendance patterns among students who attend the Art Academy and those who do not. The average attendance of youth in the programme is 87% while for those who do not attend the programme is 78%.

Salaam Bombay Foundation believes that Sport can actually play the key role of a game changer in the lives of these lesser privileged children. Availability of opportunities to play brings about an attitudinal change towards education within children, who till then found school to be boring. Understanding that development is seen as a continuum and sports a key component of this continuum, the in-school Salaam Bombay Sports Academy conducts training programme in cricket, hockey and football.

Sports empower children to become capable of developing the building blocks that lead to their personal empowerment. Equipping them with life and vocational skills make them more employable, giving them a proper chance at getting real jobs and breaking their cycle of poverty. These ‘at risk’ children benefit enormously from sport in their holistic growth including emotional, physical and intellectual development.

Dipanwita will be joining us on Wednesday, 29th May at 8.30 PM for a Twitter chat on ‘Extra-curricular activities: a holistic way to child development.’ Join us, add your voice, so we can cause a chatter.