The benefits of dedicated after-school programs are significant, and the time is now to get involved. Dedicated after-school programs provide opportunities for children and youth to participate in activities of their choosing, providing enriching and engaging experiences that can foster long-term outcomes critical to healthy development. A recent study by the Afterschool Alliance revealed a strong positive relationship exists between participation in out-of-school time programming, or OSTP, participation and academic performance.
Help Children Develop Social Skills, Meet New People and Make New Friends
After-school programs are an important place for children to learn how to interact with others. In the classroom, they are surrounded by the same peers on a daily basis, and many teachers have specific rules requiring students to work together. After school and on weekends, children have more opportunities to choose their own playmates, which can be beneficial as long as they know how to appropriately invite someone to join them or politely refuse an invitation from someone else.
The after-school program is a great place for your child to get out of the house, away from the television or computer and interact with other kids. She can meet new people who share similar interests and those who do not. With adults supervising play, she can explore new friendships without worry about whether she will be accepted into a group of kids or if she will be hurt because someone did not accept her invitation. She will have time away from school while still getting her homework done so that she can enjoy her time outside of classes.
After-school activities provide children with the opportunity to meet other children from different backgrounds. This can expand a child’s view of the world and promote tolerance for others who may be different from themselves. Children in after-school programs also form new friendships with other children who share similar interests or hobbies, which can help them feel less isolated.
A Safe Place for Children to Spend Time After School
When children have access to affordable, safe and reliable after-school programming, they have a safe place to spend time after school. Research shows that children who attend after-school programs are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as alcohol, tobacco or drug use.
In addition to encouraging good health and safety habits, high-quality after-school programs provide opportunities for academic enrichment and development of 21st century skills like problem solving, creativity and communication. These are the types of skills that help young people find success in education and employment.
After-school programs also provide parents with peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe environment while they work or attend school.
Teach Life Skills and Responsibility
Life skills are an important element of every after-school program. From learning to tie shoes and pack a lunch to taking on more responsibility by helping with homework and chores at home, life skills help children become more independent.
Responsibility is another life skill that is developed in after-school programs. This is seen in children doing their homework each day and turning it in on time. It is also seen when chores are done around the house without being asked. Responsibility can be taught in many ways such as younger students learning from older students who have mastered certain skills or teachers/mentors explaining what it means to be responsible.
When you consider the many benefits of dedicated after school programs, you may reach the conclusion that they are worth the investment. After all, no one could ever argue that it isn’t important to invest in the lives of our children. Taking time to show them that they have value, and that they deserve a healthy, supportive environment in which to learn and grow will only benefit them later in life. Dedicated after school programs can help your child build confidence—you can’t ask for more than that.