The After-School Activity Advantage

In Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture, Hilary Levey Friedman states that children who participate in after school activities, like competitive chess, dance, and soccer, build a skill set that distinguish them from their peers in the tournament of life.  The skill set, referred to as Competitive Kid Capital, is comprised of five components:

1)      Learning from Loss

2)      Importance of Winning

3)      Time Management

4)      Adaptability

5)      Grace Under Pressure

Although the five components can influence a child’s success in college and in life, Friedman points out that the advantage clearly lies with those from more affluent families:

The group of 95 families I met almost all belong to the broadly defined “middle class,” although a few were lower-income and many were upper-middle class. Training a lens on more affluent families helps us understand how and why the professionalization of children’s competitive after-school activities has become an important way that the middle class has institutionalized its advantage over others.


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