Co-curricular activities (CCAs) in school have all sorts of benefits and give students experiences beyond the classroom they’d never encounter otherwise. Kids make friends, learn new things and acquire different skills from CCAs, like learning how to play in a string ensemble, safe swimming techniques, or nifty photography tricks. They also pick up soft skills along the way like expressing themselves creativity through drama and music lessons, learn teamwork through sports activities and pick up a love for the outdoors through uniformed groups.
You’ve probably already heard of unique CCAs like handbells, the chess club or golf. But we’ve found some even lesser-known CCAs that are truly worth checking out as they might be just what your kids are looking for.
Schools usually have some form of orchestra or musical ensemble, but a military band is one that’s a little less well-known. It’s hard enough playing an instrument, but playing it while marching in formation in full military uniform? Hats off to the kids from Deyi Secondary School (pictured up top)!
Angklung/ Kulintang Ensemble
The Angklung is a musical instrument from Indonesia that’s made up of bamboo tubes attached to a frame. The tubes are struck and shaken to create a resonant sound (think handbells). Angklung ensembles are usually coupled with the Kulintang, which is another ancient instrument made up of a row of knobbed gongs. When they come together, it’s not only a treat for the ears, but the the amazing traditional costumes the students wear during performance is also a feast for the eyes. We hear it’s a favourite amongst the students at Crescent Girls School and St. Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School.
Another genre of Indonesian music, a gamelan ensemble is made up of percussion instruments like the drums, knobbed gongs, metallophones, xylophones and bowed and plucked strings. Gamelan is strictly a group effort with a polyphonic sound, so every performer needs to be in tune. A wayward strike could throw a meditative and soothing piece off. We’re amazed at primary school students, especially those from Lian Hua Primary School, who possess the patience and coordination to produce such beautiful music.
The Guzheng is a Chinese zither, an ancient instrument made up of 21 strings. When plucked, each of them produce a variety of sounds. Learning how to play this delicate instrument is supposed to teach finesse and discipline. Put musically-talented students like those from North View Primary School or Cedar Girls Secondary School in front of this instrument and they promise to give you a show-stopping performance.
That Dance Thing (TDT)
Organised by the parent volunteers at the Singapore American School, this co-curricular activity has kids learning the ins and outs of ballroom dance, dining and social etiquette. TDT isn’t just for learning which fork goes with which course (always start from the outside and work your way in), but it also teaches kids social graces and how to behave in formal settings. They’ll even get to strut their stuff at the monthly dinner dances.
Would you believe there’s a CCA for kids who like to tumble, juggle, do magic and put on a show? That’s right, GESS offers a circus CCA for kids to help them discover their hidden talents or develop new tricks, like how to ride a unicycle and walk the tightrope. They’ll learn balance, coordination and showmanship – perfect if you have a kiddo who was born to perform.
Coined from the Malay word ‘to kick’ (sepak) and the Thai word ‘woven ball’ (takraw), this old-school ‘kampung’ game is today a recognised sport across the world. In fact, it’s soon to be an official sport in the 2022 Olympics. The game is simple, yet interesting. You need to get a rattan ball, the size of your hand, across a net. The tricky part? You can only use your feet, knees, chest or head to do so, but not your hands. Some secondary schools like Queensway Secondary School offer it as a CCA and who knows, maybe the students there have got their eyes on an Olympic gold medal!
Tchoukball (pronounced ‘chow-kuh-ball’) is an indoor team sport created by Swiss biologist Dr Hermann Brandt in the 1970s, who wanted to reduce the number of injuries people sustained while playing sports. This non-contact game is usually played on an indoor court. At each end of the court there’s a one square metre ‘frame’ and a semicircular D-shaped forbidden zone. Each team can score on both ends of the court, but in order to score a point, the ball must be thrown by an attacking player, hit the frame and bounce outside the ‘D’ without being caught by the defending team. Tchoukball is being taught at both primary and secondary schools, including Jurongville Secondary School, Greendale Primary and Farrer Park Primary School.
This playground game isn’t just great during recess, it’s also a popular sport amongst primary students in schools like Teck Ghee Primary School and Horizon Primary School. Skipping is a great form of cardio and improves coordination. Kids who pick this CCA don’t just learn techniques like the criss-cross (and there are some amazing technique names like Toad, Awesome Annie and TJ), they also perform choreographed routines at competitions.
Singapore Youth Flying Club
Available in 15 secondary schools in Singapore, the Singapore Youth Flying Club lets teens live out their Top Gun dreams. Students don’t get to practice on a real aircraft until they’re at least 16 years old, but do get to design and race model aeroplanes and even try out flight simulators.
This fusion of kayaking, water polo and basketball is a challenging sport meant for teens over 17, but NUS High recruits new players from as young as 13. Players have to score goals into nets on either side of the pool, while manoeuvring their kayaks. Sounds easy? Try having ten kayaks playing bumper boats in a swimming pool at the same time!
It’s not a recognised CCA in most schools just yet, but if your gamer teen wants to rally together a team to take part in the Singapore Campus League, they can. Just fill in a form and they’ll be able to compete against other schools in League of Legends (a multiplayer online battle arena) and earn CCA points too. Don’t be so quick to write off gaming, it teaches teamwork and problem solving skills, so there are benefits to be had. Check out our clueless parents’ guide to online gaming.
Top image credit: Choo Yut Shing via Flickr
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