The Benefits of Before and After School Programs

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When the bell rings at 3 p.m., millions of children leave school and are left to take care of themselves until their parents come home. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since children are always on a road towards learning to be more independent. Unfortunately, too much unstructured time can cause kids to neglect a focus their school-related obligations. Unproductive, unhealthy, or even dangerous behaviors can materialize seemingly out of thin air. Having a place to go before and after school can help mitigate the tendency towards inertia and provide kids with a positive, character-building use of their time.

Enrolling your child in aftercare and enrichment programs can give you peace of mind while helping your children learn, do their homework, and also have fun. Quality before and after school programs will have developed many creative ways to turn aimless hours into productive time. This is a great benefit for all kids, and especially those with learning or attention challenges. Many of these programs will also provide homework help to give children an opportunity to do their assignments and also seek an adult’s assistance, should they need it.

Many parents feel one of the greatest benefits of these programs is that their children are able to complete their homework at school, so they can have a more relaxing evening at home. Another benefit is they allow children to have fun in a relaxed atmosphere, promote new interests, and inspire intellectual curiosity. It is hard to list every possible positive outcome in a short blog post, but here are some of the main benefits your child can gain from participating in before and after school programs.

 

Here Is A Decidedly Non-Comprehensive List of Positive Outcomes:

 

1. Increased Academic Effort, Performance, and Attendance

Most children are very likely to feel more comfortable working on an assignment when they are in a less formal, low pressure environment but still are able to get help (if they need it) in finishing the assignment. Quality after school programs approach learning in even traditionally academic subjects, such as math and science, in a creative way, increasing a child’s interest in those subjects. Creative approaches improve the level of a child’s engagement with a subject. Whenever a child notices some progress and the positive effects of their extracurricular activities, they will gain more confidence and self-esteem and become motivated to be more active in the class. Greater interest leads to a stronger effort in school and less zoning out in subjects they find boring.

 

2. Improving a Child’s Social Skills
Before and after school programs can greatly expand a child’s social circles and skills. If the program is located at your school, then your child will get the chance to connect with familiar faces but in a different environment. If it is not, then your child will get to meet new friends they wouldn’t know otherwise. By doing so, children get extra opportunities to use their social skills and build new relationships. In most after school programs, children participate in group activities with their peers. This helps kids discover new ways to learn and play. In addition, these activities can be a major benefit to children that are shy or more reserved. A quality program will have staff who are trained to promote cooperation, support, and mutual respect.
3. Ensured Safety and Supervision
According to the statistics from the Advancement Project, teens who do not take part in after school programs are more likely to use drugs, drink alcohol, and smoke cigarettes. All children, not only teens, are likely to engage in risky behavior when left unsupervised, especially children who have learning or attention issues. An after school program will keep children engaged and also provide a safe environment that can result in better grades and decrease in behavioral problems. In addition, before and after school programs will not only prevent risky behavior but also promote the more productive use of time. Children tend to waste their free time on computer games, social media, and other aimless activities. These programs will provide children with activities that are structured to make children productive and have fun at the same time.
4. Engagement in Physical Activities
Kids, whether they are 8 or 80, need exercise. After care programs can feature a recess, either an outdoor playground or indoor jungle gym time if the weather is harsh, or sports component that encourages children to move around, build healthy habits, and play. In addition to these activities, most quality programs also include healthy snacks or meals, and emphasize the good habits of eating healthy.
5. Providing an Opportunity to Relax
Some parents are skeptical about before and after school programs because they worry the extra activities will be a burden to their child’s already existing obligations. Quality aftercare, however, shouldn’t only be about learning and doing homework. They should provide children the opportunity to burn off some steam from a tough school day, spend time alone or with friends, and have some time to relax and unwind. After school enrichment programs are a great way to ensure that your children spend time in a safe environment, get to finish all their school assignments, and also manage to have some fun time. These programs are not only likely to improve a child’s academic performance but also mitigate the risks of sedentary behavior, reduce the opportunities for mischief to visit them, and help them develop useful skills.


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