Out-of-school habits and school effectiveness
Although it appears obvious, it is necessary to highlight the importance of pupils doing activities outside school in order to promote school effectiveness. In this regard, the educational work of schools does not finish when pupils leave for the day; it is also essential to ensure that they are immersed in an environment that fosters habits for personal and academic success. Our study highlights certain pupil habits before and after the school day that are essential factors associated with school effectiveness:
- The distribution of pupils’ duties and leisure and academic activities outside school affects their academic performance. It is recommended that pupils perform these activities after the school day and that, before school, parents focus exclusively on ensuring that their children are properly rested and fed.
- While in low-effectiveness schools a high proportion of pupils affirm that they engage in certain activities before attending school (family or work duties, sport, reading, surfing or chatting on the Internet, studying or doing homework, watching television or playing videogames, etc.), frequently carrying out activities after school does not harm effectiveness (with the exception of the work duties).
- Pupils who regularly converse with their parents after school are associated to a greater extent with high effectiveness.
In addition to all of these habits, pupils also do out-of-school activities that are either academic or purely leisure-related. Despite the evident importance of a diversity of activities to foster the al-round development of children, the latest scientific evidence shows concern about the danger of overstimulation and overactiviti of young people in today’s hectic world. In this respect, our project has identified certain results that could shed some light on this point:
- Pupils’ participation in an excessive number of out-of-school activities, whether curricular or extracurricular, is a factor that is clearly associated with school ineffectiveness. In high-effectiveness settings, participation in many different kinds of curricular out-of-school activities is moderate.
- In low-effectiveness settings, a high proportion of pupils attend a significant number of out-of-school, mainly curricular, classes. Schools in which it is customary for pupils to receive out-of-school support in core subjects of the curriculum are generally identified as being of low effectiveness.
- Participation in non-curricular out-of-school activities is important and recommended, but, in high-effectiveness schools, pupils tend to have a moderate amount of out-of-school activities.
Out-of-school activities offer
Having said that, there is no doubt about the positive impact on children of doing some out-of-school activities in order for them to develop properly, but overloaded timetables should be avoided. We should not forget that we all need time for ourselves and time to relax. Regarding the most appropriate kind of out-of-school activities to promote the effectiveness of schools and academic success of pupils, our results suggest that, while no leisure activities are necessarily better than others, the schools should offer a wide variety and focus them on educational goals and aims:
- Effective schools offer a broad range of out-of-school activities, such as those that are indirectly linked to the school curriculum using a game playing approach (gamification).
- Among its activities, effective schools include science clubs and competitions, chess clubs and school newspapers.
- Orientating out-of-school activities exclusively towards leisure pursuits (sport, art, ICT, etc.), thereby disregarding activities linked to the curriculum, is a risk factor for school effectiveness.