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Children's Environment and Behavior: Participation in Extracurricular Activities

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Document date: January 01, 1999
Released online: January 01, 1999

The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

Note: The Portable Document Format (PDF) of this report includes all tables and charts.

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Participation in extracurricular activities encourages personal accomplishment and the development of interpersonal skills. For adolescents, these activities offer an opportunity to assume meaningful roles and responsibilities. The sense of efficacy gained from these experiences can be an important protective factor for children growing up under adverse circumstances. Research finds, for example, that participation in religious organizations and leadership in school clubs are associated with a lower risk of school-age motherhood.

For many children, participation in extracurricular activities is not an option, because of economic constraints, limited opportunities in neighborhoods or schools, or a parent's need for assistance at home. Changes in welfare may affect family economic resources and family schedules. With more income, families may be able to afford activities and lessons for their children, or they may enroll children in schools where activities are more readily available. However, the demands of parental work may increase children's obligations at home, thereby limiting their participation in extracurricular activities.

Participation in extracurricular activities was assessed on the basis of parents' responses to questions about children's involvement in lessons, clubs, sports, or other activities. Children who participated in at least one of these activities in the past year were categorized as involved in activities.

Nationally, 83 percent of all children age 6 to 17 participated in at least one extracurricular activity, including clubs, sports, or lessons. Of children in families with low incomes (under 200 percent of the poverty level), 73 percent participated, compared to 90 percent of children in higher-income families, a statistically significant difference.

Note: The Portable Document Format (PDF) of this report includes all tables and charts.



Topics/Tags: | Children and Youth | Poverty, Assets and Safety Net


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