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After-School-Activities Articles


Over Scheduling Kids

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 232)
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Several studies are expressing a growing concern that after school

programs are pressurizing kids to do too much too soon. They point out

that when a child's afternoon is filled with classes, trips, sports and

other forms of organized activities, kids do not really get the time to be

just kids. They are even being deprived of the cherished family time.

Undoubtedly, there are children who are being burdened with a schedule

that places too much demand on their time. This leads to increased levels

of stress on the child and the family. As regular studies cannot be

ignored, children are almost always on the run to achieve more. Such

children are really bearing a burden that is too heavy for their frail

little shoulders.

In an ideal world, all children would go home directly after school to

loving and caring parents who are waiting for the children to come home.

But the social and economic realities show that many children have to

attend after school courses because there is no one available at home. For

such children, these classes are a boon.

Parents should however restrain themselves from reading too much into

these activities. After school programs are complimentary in nature. They

give additional support. Therefore, their importance should also be

limited.

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Quirky After School Programs

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 248)
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With the growing interest in after school programs shown by the Government

as well as parents, new and hitherto unheard of programs are being

explored. In an attempt to make a child aware of his responsibilities as

an individual and as a citizen, these after school programs make use of a

child's natural curiosity and his irrepressible energy.

Investigative Skills:

In some schools in Kernersville, children are developing their

investigative skills. Children meet with adults who introduce them to the

details of fake non-violent crimes. They take notes, visit the scene and

gather information. Students learn to listen to alibis, collect

fingerprints and gather any other pieces of evidence. According to the

principal, these activities challenge her students' problem solving

skills. Children learn to think critically and to form informed judgments.

Fisheries and sciences:

In North Carolina, children who are interested get a chance to win a

scholarship through their after school activity. Here, students are given

a chance to face hands-on fisheries science experiments in a freshwater or

marine setting. Professionals, educators and experts from the world of

Fisheries act as mentors. Students accepted into the program get a $3,000

scholarship.

The above examples go to show that after school activities are becoming

serious. They are slowly morphing into important parts of a child's

education and moving away from the fun-and-frolic-only programs of the

past.

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Art Based Activities

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 245)
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A recent report by several independent researchers concludes that

participating in the arts nurtures the development of social, personal and

cognitive skills. Programs based on Arts can improve academic achievement

and decrease the tendency towards delinquency. It helps youth form

positive attitudes about themselves and build self-esteem.

Arts programs involve communication, interpretation and understanding of

complex symbols, much like mathematics and languages. Thus it fosters

higher-order analytical skills and skills of evaluation and synthesis.

Many of the programs make the child regularly use multiple skills thus

making him dynamic and versatile.

Development of imagination, judgment and philosophy are fringe benefits of

an arts-based activity. As opposed to the short 45-minute duration of the

art classes at school, the extra time allowed in after school activities

allows the child to get more involved. This results in more satisfactory

opportunities for development of latent capabilities in the child. In

turn, the child learns to set high standards of achievement. He

understands what sustained focus is and learns that regular practice is

the way to excellence.

In the shy or the withdrawn child, theatre, speech or drama lessons may be

an outlet for pent up emotions. As drama entails getting into the 'skin'

of another person, the child learns to verbalize emotions and express

thoughts. These reasons account for the popularity of arts-based

activities.

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Reading Activities

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 235)
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In a world that is slowly but surely turning away from books and getting

glued to monitors or television screens, the importance of developing a

passion for reading cannot be overlooked. Reading is a habit and should be

established when the child is relatively young. What can you do to foster

this habit?

Enroll your child for reading classes:

There are many well structured after school reading classes that aim to

draw the children to books. They help kids with diction, idioms and

phrases. For young children, these classes can be fun with animated

characters and pictures. Illustrated picture books, rhymes, silly songs

and pretend stories all attract the young child. Use creativity to capture

the child's vivid imagination.

Pique your child's interest:

If your child has a favorite character, pick a series of books that

features this character. For my son, it was Spiderman. Thanks to friendly

neighborhood spidey, my son latched on to comics fairly early in his

childhood.

Build a home-library:

A skill like reading cannot be learnt in isolation. Do not leave all the

hard work to the after school program. Pick up books that you think your

child will like. The Internet is also a rich resource of reading games

that will attract little children to the fine art of reading.

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Recreational After School Programs

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 462)
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After school programs can be divided into 3 broad categories: academic,

recreational and social. Balanced development takes place when there is

compatibility between the physical, mental as well as the educational

achievements of the child.As the name suggests recreational after school

programs are based on a sport or recreation. Some of the more common

physical activities include football, swimming and basketball.Some clubs

offer programs like gymnastics, trekking and hiking. In this case,

youngsters are often given a short class in first-aid class also.

Recreational after school programs offer children an opportunity to let

off some steam and to destress themselves. The closed classroom atmosphere

and a day full of textbooks and writing cause the child to repress his

natural enthusiasm. He curbs his energy when he is required to sit quietly

in class and learn. Physical activity is an all-time low during such

times. This physical lethargy and inaction is countermanded by

recreational activities. Growing concerns of obesity and child diabetes

make it necessary for children to indulge in some strenuous exercises that

will allow them to work up some sweat.

Unlike educational programs, recreational programs do not tax the

mental processes. But, they do aid the learning process by making the

child more active. A child who is physically active is mentally fit, and

is able to focus his thoughts on the work at hand. Additionally,

recreational programs teach discipline, mechanics of teamwork and fair

play. These are important lessons in the growing process.

As more and more nuclear families emerge, the child faces greater

isolation. Many children shuttle between their classroom and their

bedrooms and do not have any meaningful relationships outside these.

Recreational programs offer ample avenues for socialization. This is a

place the child can go to and play even when his neighbor is not the most

welcoming. The Boy / Girl Scout programs are excellent recreational after

school programs. Lately, survival classes and camps have devised to

combine important survival skills with sports and games to educate

children on how to handle emergencies.

Like any good after school program, recreational programs are designed to

give children a safe area where they can indulge in some group activities

that interest them. This is one of the most effective ways to keep kids

out of the streets and out of trouble. But, one has to be careful when

enrolling children for recreational classes. The age of the child, his

temperament and his physical caliber has to be taken into account before

you choose the right program for your child.

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Effective After School Activities

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 534)
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When there are so many activities on offer, and each one looks as good as

the next, how do you gauge the worth and effectiveness of these

activities? Sure, you want an activity that junior enjoys. But, we really

cannot afford to waste time on pleasure for pleasure's sake, do we? There

needs to be a grain of gold somewhere in there. Given below is a list of

characteristics that any good after school activity must possess.

Clarity in objectives and goals is the first important thing. What does

the course offer? How does it propose to achieve the results? How many

kids make up a batch? Ask questions. After all, when you are dishing out

the dough, you really need to understand what you are getting in return.

A good after school activity will provide lots of opportunities for the

young to increase their level of understanding of complex concepts. This

is true of recreational activities too. Learning to pitch a ball, or dance

to a tune - regardless of the activity involved, the child should be

encouraged to grapple with and conquer new concepts. This not only keeps

boredom at bay by challenging the child, but also builds up his

self-confidence. Development of academic, personal and social skills is

one of the prime aims of an after school activity. As the skills develop,

the child's self-esteem also increases.

After school activities are all about boosting a child's sense of

competence. Good and effective after school activities promotes the

resilience of youth and encourages them to grow stronger, be it mentally,

emotionally or physically.

Safety is one of the first requirements of an after school activity. The

staff should be qualified, adequate and alert. Never put your child in a

program where safety is a matter of accident instead of a matter of

priority. The staff should be friendly and should have a positive

relationship with the child. Therefore, the program should have

professional and trained staff that loves to interact with children. The

program should maintain a cooperative and supportive attitude and a

structured environment. Participation and collaboration as opposed to

competition and antagonism must be encouraged.

Some programs involve the children in planning activities and making

decisions. Adults often forget to get the opinion of their children. By

giving the children an opportunity to voice their opinion, programs become

fun activities that children are motivated to participate in. Young people

thrive when they are listened to, respected and allowed to contribute

their mite.

Routine evaluations are an important part of after school programs. If the

child does not benefit from a class, don't waste time being

over-optimistic. Try something new.

You are now ready to look for the perfect after school activity for your

child. But don't let us forget that having fun is also an important part

of growing up. The child deserves a few hours of pure delight. Remember,

all work and no play, ......

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School Based After School Programs

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 450)
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In an effort to keep children motivated and safe, the U.S. Government

sets aside a good amount of fund for financing after school programs every

year. A report by the U.S. Department of Education and Justice points out

that after school programs are very effective and is in the interests of

the society as a whole. Interestingly, it was found that Americans liked

providing school-based after school-programs in their community.

Other than safety, boredom and loneliness, the poor performance of many

students also led to the need for after-school programs that are based on

the school curriculum. Children coming from low-income families were found

to lag behind in reading and grammar after a long break in the summer.

Statistics prove that if school-going children are left unsupervised after

their school, the chances of poor grades and drop out are considerably

higher. The funds provided by the Government will allow rural and

inner-city schools to provide activities during the summer, over the

weekends and after school. These activities will take place in a

drug-free, safe and supervised environment.

Positive augmentation of critical skills is the prime focus of these

school-based after school activities. Thus they enhance the skill level of

the child. Most school-based programs offer assistance in math tutoring,

reading, comprehension and problem solving. Many programs provide engaging

activities that seek to prepare the students for college. Hands-on

experience is provided for children who want to invest in a career in

teaching. Access to telecommunication and technology and involvement in

music and art are other benefits of these programs. This becomes

invaluable, especially in low-income sectors where such activities are

considered to be a luxury.

As far as children are concerned, the snacks provided in after school

programs are an added incentive. School sponsored after school programs

are entitled to receive funds for snacks. The National School Lunch

Program is designed to do just this. Free or reduced price snacks will be

provided for children from schools that apply for it. The CACFP reimburses

expenditure depending upon the child's income status. But this is

applicable only till the age of 13. The funding that schools get depends

upon the area in which they are situated. A low-income area gets more

funding. Supper can be served to children below the age of 19. Longer

programs can provide both supper and a snack. With the participation of

non-profit private organization, it is possible to feed deserving school

children breakfast, supper and a snack.

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After School Activities And Burnout

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 224)
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For millions of parents around the world, the day does not end with the school bell. There are still pictures to be painted, songs to be sung and games to be played. This all adds up to keeping children happy, safe and out of trouble. But, parents have to steer away from going overboard.

After school is not baby-sitting:

After school activities thrive only if it is backed by sufficient parental involvement. What would a soccer match be without parents cheering their little heroes from the sidelines?.

Research and choose:

Instead of convenience being the decisive factor, find out things that will interest your child. Once you select a program, get the fine print and find out what you have to contribute.

Free time:

Many children attend piano classes, followed by ballet and squeeze in some time for play dates in between just before they rush home in time for bed. This rigor is too much for a child. So, go slow.

When to quit:

Often, parents enroll their child in an activity to discover that he may not be the prodigy they thought he would be. This is the time to let go. Your child may not become the next wonder-kid. But, let him cultivate an interest that he enjoys. Remember, happiness and fulfillment are all that matter.

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How Much Is Too Much

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 574)
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Should your child go for the football practice 5 days a week? Are 3 days

enough? It is common for parents to be a little confused when it comes to

deciding how much is too much with reference to after school activities.

They argue that since most of the activities are fun (as different from

studies), children will simply lap up these classes. But, too much of fun

can also make a child sick. Here is a simple guide that will help you

decide how much is too much for your child.

Kindergarten:

Your child is just beginning to learn to interact and get used to

discipline. His or her after-school life should be simple and carefree.

One or two classes per week are enough at the beginning. Once the child

settles down, look for more challenging activities like a music program.

Grade 1:

One or two activities per week, play dates and playground visits are

recommended. Avoid competitive sports activities. The child is still too

young to have to worry about winning and losing. After the rigors of a

full day at school, he or she needs a healthy outlet for pent up energy.

Physical activities and noncompetitive sports are best for this age.

Grade 2:

Your child is old enough to voice opinions on what activities he or she

wants. Sports, skating, swimming or computers - steer him towards things

he likes. Many children begin lessons on a musical instrument around this

age. But, allow your child some 'alone time' during which he can unwind

and just do whatever he wishes.

Grade 3:

Socialization begins to take center stage. Team sports are a good choice.

Developing motor skills, painting, drawing etc are good too. Let the child

explore areas of interests. But leave aside enough time for the family and

for fun activities.

Grade 4:

At this age, the child will tell you what he likes. He needs to get

involved in activities that will boost his confidence. This will also help

him manage stress as this is the time when social pressure is beginning to

build. But, beware of the homework demon. Your child needs more time with

his studies. Balancing his schoolwork with other activities is very

important.

Grade 5:

The fifth grader is bubbling with energy and will want to do just

about everything. But she or he may conveniently push studies to the

background. So, close supervision is needed. Keep one or two days free for

family time and other activities. Now is a great time to get your child

interested in community service.

Middle school:

Steer him away from TV. Get him engaged in activities that reinforce

learning. Academic performance can be improved by encouraging your preteen

to join clubs like the Girl/Boy Scouts program, language clubs, chess

clubs etc. As a thumb rule, 16-20 hours a week of extra activity should be

more than enough. But look out for signs of burnout.

What you select for your child and how long he should work at it is

basically decided by the child's temperament. As a parent, you should

closely observe your child and base your decisions on feedback from the

child himself.

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