175+ Parents & Teachers Voted: Top Extracurricular Activities that Make the Biggest Impact on Your Child’s Future

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Learn what 175+ parents and teachers think are the most important extracurricular activities to make the biggest difference in your child’s future. 

As a former teacher and new homeschool mama of young kids, I’m already thinking of my children’s future. 

Life is getting increasingly more competitive and, like you, I want to set up my kids to succeed from the beginning. 

But there are SO many options when it comes to getting our kids involved with extracurricular activities. We all know our kids can’t do all of them so… 

How do we choose the extracurricular activities that will make the biggest difference?

175+ Parents & Teachers Voted On the Best Extracurricular Activities to Set Up Your Kids for Success

I reached out to over 175+ parents and teachers in online Facebook groups to get their input on what they thought makes the biggest impact on a child’s future.

Here’s what I asked them:

“Which extracurricular activities do you believe are most important for developing skills that will help your child succeed in college, career, and life?”

I created a simple poll with the following options below. Each participant could select one or more.

  • Learning a Language
  • Learning a Trade/Skill
  • Starting a Business
  • Hobbies
  • Volunteer Work
  • Clubs/Groups
  • Teams
  • Political Involvement
  • Internship/Job Shadowing
  • Other


Overall, from the fairly even results from the poll and the comments below, parents thought choosing extracurricular activities that compliment their child’s interests and passions is the best way to ensure their success. 

the best Extracurricular activities (1)

#1 Winner

The top extracurricular activity was “Learning a Trade/Skill”. This could be anything like coding, welding, photography, graphic design, or cosmetology. Overall, any skill that could turn into some kind of trade or career.

This could have been the more popular choice because of the fact that it both prepares kids for future careers while still encouraging them to explore their interests. 

#2 Runner Up

The second most popular choice among the poll participants was “Hobbies”. This could be translated into many extracurricular activity choices like music, art, video games, chess, drama and more. 

This again follows the theme that the participants think that letting kids choose their extracurricular activities based on their interests. 

#3 Third Choice

Not surprisingly, the third most popular choice was “Volunteer Work”. These activities would include volunteering time at a food bank, mentoring, animal shelter, care centers, hospitals and other places in the community.

In addition to “looking good” on a resume, volunteer work helps to develop social and emotional skills. When our kids give their time and talents to a good cause, they begin to think outside their own circle of needs and wants. 

Dead Last

Only one category received absolutely no votes and that was “Political Involvement”. I did anticipate this category to be on the less popular side of the votes but I didn’t expect there to be no votes at all. 

I thought that parents and teachers would find it valuable for their children to participate in community/school government, voting, or political clubs. This could help prepare them for their future roles as adult citizens or even help them with college applications. 

How wrong I was!

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More Honorable Mentions & Extracurricular Activity Ideas

I got a lot more feedback from this poll than just votes!

The comments were loaded with creative suggestions for using extra curricular activities for developing your children’s skills and abilities.

Here are some of their stories!

Sarah – Extracurricular Activities That Encourages Entrepreneurship

Sarah encourages her kids to turn their interests and hobbies into small businesses.

extra curricular activities high school

Ann – Extracurricular Activities that Prepare for College

Ann shares that her children participate in a number of extracurricular activities that help her children develop college-ready skills. She also mentions that she teaches skills through example by letting her kids tag along with her as she goes on photoshoots for her photography business.

best extra curricular activities for college

Kerry – Extracurricular Activities that Teach Life Skills and Follow Student Interest

Kerry believes that the best chance of success for our children is to teach our kids life skills and emotional resilience. She encourages that we choose activities that interest our children and foster these social and emotional skills. 

why is extra curricular activities important - Kerry (1)

Julie – Extracurricular Activities that Encourage Service

Julie is a homeschool parent who regularly serves with her children in her community and across the world as part of their homeschool education. 

Julie a Homeschool Mom extra curricular activity examples

Why Are Extracurricular Activities Important

Extracurricular activities can be incredibly important for a student’s overall development and success. 

By participating in activities outside of their academic coursework, students can gain new experiences and skills that they may not have the opportunity to learn in the classroom. 

Here are a few benefits students will gain from extracurricular activities:

  • Developing leadership skills
  • Building teamwork skills
  • Enhancing problem-solving abilities
  • Increasing creativity
  • Boosting self-confidence
  • Learning time management skills
  • Building social connections
  • Improving communication skills
  • Expanding knowledge and interests
  • Gaining practical experience in a field of interest
  • Standing out on college applications and resumes
  • Preparing for college and future career success.

Best Extracurricular Activities for College

Choosing the best extracurricular activities for college can be a daunting task, but it’s an important one to consider well before your child is thinking about applying. 

Colleges look for well-rounded students who have demonstrated a variety of skills and interests beyond their academic coursework. 

Depending on the college, and your child’s goals, it doesn’t always matter which specific activities you choose. 

As a general rule, look for activities show colleges your child has the following skills:

  • Demonstrating leadership and responsibility: leadership roles in clubs or organizations
  • Giving back: participation in community service or volunteer work
  • Work well with others: sports teams
  • Express creativity and flexibility: art, music, or theater groups
  • Knowledge and experience in the field of interest: internships or job shadowing
  • Desire to challenge themselves: academic clubs like debate or robotics

Extracurricular Activities Examples

  • Sports teams (e.g., basketball, soccer, swimming, track and field)
  • Music groups (e.g., choir, band, orchestra)
  • Theater and drama groups
  • Academic clubs (e.g., debate, robotics, math club)
  • Community service and volunteer work
  • Internships and job shadowing
  • Art and photography clubs
  • Language clubs and international exchange programs
  • Student government and leadership organizations
  • Writing and literary clubs
  • STEM-related clubs (e.g., coding club, science club, engineering club)
  • Dance and martial arts groups
  • Environmental and outdoor clubs (e.g., hiking, camping, gardening)

Homeschool Extracurricular Activities

As a homeschool mama, I couldn’t leave out special ideas for homeschoolers!

Of course homeschoolers can participate in any of the suggested extracurricular activities above but in addition, here are some creative ideas more specific to homeschoolers.

  • Travel to historical sites across the country/world (family history research, experience different cultures, visit landmarks and museums)
  • Co-op classes or clubs with other homeschoolers
  • Participating in homeschool theater productions or musical groups
  • Participating in a homeschool book club or writing group
  • Taking part in a homeschool science fair or history project
  • Starting a business or entrepreneurial venture
  • Learning a trade or skill through apprenticeship or mentorship
  • Participating in virtual classes or online clubs with homeschoolers from around the world
  • Attending homeschooling conferences and events
  • Volunteering at local/national organizations or with community groups
  • Participating in outdoor education programs or wilderness survival courses
  • Developing a portfolio of creative work (e.g., artwork, creative writing, music compositions) for submission to competitions or scholarships.


What Are Extracurricular Activities

If you’ve gotten this far and are still wondering, “what is an extracurricular activity?”

Put simply, extracurricular activities are any activities that your child engages in outside of their regular academic coursework. 

Your child can participate in clubs, sports teams, volunteer work, internships, and more. (See a full list of extracurricular activity examples below)

Even though these activities do not influence your child’s grades, they provide them with valuable experiences that improve their abilities to learn new skills, explore their interests, improve academic performance, build social connections, and open doors of opportunities.

Co-Curricular vs Extracurricular

To be clear, extracurricular activities are different from school activities, or co-curricular activities. 

Understanding the difference between co-curricular and extracurricular activities can be important when considering your child’s educational opportunities. 

Co-curricular activities are those that are directly related to a student’s academic coursework, such as lab work, field trips, and homework assignments. 

These activities are typically mandatory and are designed to complement and enhance a student’s academic learning. 

Extracurricular activities, on the other hand, are voluntary and are not directly related to a student’s coursework

These activities can include clubs, sports teams, community service, and more. 

While they may not be mandatory, many students choose to participate to increase their abilities and opportunities.

Conclusion: Best Extracurricular Activities that Make the Biggest Impact on Your Child’s Future

In general, it doesn’t always matter exactly which extracurricular activities your children choose. 

Whether it be learning a trade skill, hobby, or volunteer work, as long as they have a true interest in the activity, they’ll develop the necessary life skills that will make them successful. 

What’s Next?

A common theme among the participating parents and teachers from the poll above was the importance of developing social and emotional skills to foster emotional resilience and social intelligence. 

Social emotional activities for Elementary

Check out these easy social emotional activities that you can do to begin developing these skills in your child today!

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