Difference Between Enrichment Classes and After Care Programs


Many parents who have to work and need to arrange supervision for their children are looking for a balance of time that is productive, but also not overwhelming at the same time. A great solution for this problem would be enrolling a child in a topic-specific enrichment activity or daycare.

Back when this author was in school (I’m not telling you when exactly that was, other than it was before iPads and after the dinosaurs) ‘after care programs’ were just a place where parents just left their children to hang out with other kids until they were ready to pick them up.

‘Enrichment classes’ were usually some kind of sport or skill-specific class where they expected their kids to learn something, but seemed to be the option savvy parents were choosing to make it look like they weren’t just leaving their kids to hang out with other kids until they were ready to pick them up.

In today’s school environment, expectations for programming outside of the regular school day is much higher and these terms are resembling each other more and more.

After Care Programs vs. Enrichment Classes

Today’s after school enrichment programs have become more comprehensive. They typically combine an academic component with a lot of fun, playtime activities. This means that they still benefit students intellectually but in a much more relaxed environment. On other hand, topic-based enrichment classes mostly focus on activities that enhance learning in a certain subject field.

What are Enrichment Classes?

Enrichment classes often confuse with tutoring services because both tend to focus on a certain subject and enhance a student’s learning. Enrichment classes, however typically extend beyond the subjects that are taught in schools and may include learning a foreign language, music, drama, art, or even sports. The greatest difference between tuition and enrichment classes is that tuition prepares a child to do well on exams and assessments. On the other hand, enrichment classes have a much broader focus and help the child explore a certain subject in a fun and interactive manner.

According to Edutopia, a big strength of enrichment classes is that they employ something called “stealth learning.” This means that students are engaged in activities that may not look like learning to them, but they actually are learning. For example, if you enroll your child in a cooking class, they may use math to calculate measurements and even chemistry for mixing ingredients. In addition, they may employ problem-solving and group-work skills.

When choosing an enrichment class for your child, pay attention to their needs and interests. These classes should be something that will allow your child to hone in on their talents and strengths, build confidence, and do something he or she enjoys. Some children do better in music or dance, and others excel in academic-oriented activities such as writing or STEM. Introducing your kids to new subjects is always a consideration, but you should prioritize choosing a class that your child will be interested in.

What are After Care Programs?

The greatest difference between before and after school daycare and an enrichment class is the time students spend in them and the variety of activities that are done. After care programs tend to combine different activities and subjects and often last for three hours or even more. Enrichment classes typically last for about an hour and focus on a certain subject field.

Difference between Enrichment Classes and After Care Programs - Apollo After School

After care programs also offer a child the option to perform school-related tasks, such as homework, with the help and guidance of an educated professional. Each year, after school and day care programs are becoming more advanced, offering a wide variety of different activities and often incorporating aspects of traditional weekly enrichment classes. With a nation-wide interest in adopting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), well-designed after care programs will successfully combine academic support and enrichment activities.

After school programs have not always been structured this way. When they first appeared in the 1970s, they typically offered only recreational activities to students that would remain otherwise unsupervised. In the 1990s, new federal support for these programs appeared and this resulted in the creation of more facilities that provided additional academic opportunities for children. These days, most after care programs fulfill two requirements: include activities that expand learning opportunities for children and also help reduce the risky behaviors that can manifest themselves during unsupervised time.

In addition to this, a quality daycare program will also offer the following:

  • Help students to develop positive relationships with peers and adults.
  • Focus on building a student’s strengths.
  • Provide a safe and supervised environment where young people can explore their interests.
  • Ensure enriching activities students can participate in.
  • Give the students an opportunity to work on developing their social and intellectual skills.
  • Increase student attendance and performance in their regular school coursework.

Attending Both Enrichment Classes and After Care Programs – Some Healthy Precautions

Many parents work very hard to provide their children with every possible opportunity to succeed, and sign their kids up for every activity available. This can be beneficial, of course, it is important to make sure children also have the time to structure their own time and not be overwhelmed with responsibilities or unhealthy stress. If you notice that your child is often tired, irritable, or expressing the classic, ‘I HATE this!’, it’s probably a good time to scale back their obligations and consider dropping a class or two. Too much stress or pressure can lead to an aversion of the subject or activity, and sometimes will make them want to quit after school enrichment programs altogether.

It should be pretty easy to see once you’ve found a good balance – your child will tend to maintain an overall interest in all their scheduled activities, they will be happy at the end of each session, successfully demonstrate some of the skills they’ve been learning, and also have the time to just enjoy being a kid.

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