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The Value of Enrichment Activities

By Kathleen Sabo (UpliftingEducation.net – A Balanced Approach to Education)

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What is the purpose of recreation? Should enrichment activities be optional or do we require them? A common goal for both education and recreation is to enhance the lives of people of all ages. Through recreation individuals can find the motivation to lead a productive life. Enrichment activities can help students generate patterns for creative proficiency, build good character, initiate an engaged mode for learning, and find purpose in life.

How do enrichment activities generate patterns for creative proficiency? The achievement goal theory is one of the popular approaches to understand what motivates a person. It refers to how students respond or react to an experience and how they achieve goals. There are two significant goal types: task-involved and ego-involved. The task-involved goal focuses on getting better at something through training and incremental mastery learning. Ego-involved goals strive to be better than others. Task-involved goals, rather than ego-involved goals, have a better chance to be aligned with adaptive motivational patterns including such practices as working hard, choosing harder learning tasks and believing that  accomplishments are a result of the effort  invested. Enrichment activities can be a vehicle to teach the attitudes and habits required to do well in other subjects and other areas of life.

If students learn to motivate themselves, discipline their minds, work hard, create and implement their study plans, and seek help when needed, they will be well equipped not only for the challenges in college but for success in future endeavors. Two essential aspects of motivation are the viewpoints about how good one is and how much value one sees in the activity. When individuals feel they can do something well, they invest more effort, energy, and time into their tasks. In the same way, when people feel the activity brings value to them, whether the value is in its interest, importance, usefulness, or enjoyment, they persist beyond distraction, difficulties, or obstacles. The challenge for educators is not only to grasp their student’s attention but to see them take initiative.

Our educational system focuses on developing knowledge, skills, and creative talents but what about the more fundamental dimension of educating students to grow their empathy, spirituality, and desire to be good? One of my goals for providing enrichment activities is to balance the emphasis of professional abilities with good character traits and moral standards of influence and responsibility. Enrichment activities can be anything from service projects to walks in nature, sports to book reading, hands on projects to research papers, or even wholesome video games or work experience.

John Dewey was commonly known for his views on experiential education but the core of his work was centered on the educational experience, the long-term results of learning, and positive youth development. Rather than just book learning a particular lesson, students should learn from the entire situation and through doing something in the right way. When students work on projects, for example, they learn to work with others, to utilize the knowledge they have, and to seek answers to questions. In order to do this, they need to develop confidence, consideration, humility, and respect just to name a few character traits.

The reality is that if a student is only given information, very little of that knowledge remains with the student. Even though it takes more effort and investment, my goal is to guide students to become engaged in their learning so they will not only enjoy it more but they will retain the knowledge longer. When doing enrichment activities, if the student is able to be an instigator — which is much more than just a participant — motivation, interest, and progress  multiply naturally.

This article addresses just a fraction of the benefits of enrichment activities and the lasting affects toward a person’s motivation, character, attitude, and purpose. In the end, it’s not the price, time, or opportunity of the activities that counts but it’s the lasting benefit that such enrichment provides. Take a look at our combination of engaging digital curriculum and resources that can inspire students to apply, deepen, and extend their learning while encouraging their personal motivation.

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