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After-School-Activities Articles


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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Developmental After School Programs

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 466)
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As a child grows into an adult, different aspects of his physical,

emotional and mental self needs development. To help a child reach his

full potential, it is necessary to recognize the child's developmental

needs and abilities. To be effective, after school programs should assist

children with tasks they must accomplish during each stage of development.

A child's growth curve can be divided into three main parts:

1) Young child (ages 3-5)

2) Middle school (ages 6-8)

3) Older school (ages 9-12)

The four important domains of development are: The Physical Domain, the

Social Domain, the Emotional Domain and the Intellectual Domain. Each of

these domains needs to be separately addressed during the various phases

of a child's growth. After school programs should concentrate on

developing each domain as applicable to the age of the child. Although the

children participating in these programs may have similar developmental

needs and age, do not expect development to be uniform. Children will

develop as and when they are ready.

Physical Domain:

When children are young, they want to perfect skills that they have just

learnt to control. A variety of movements such as jumping, catching and

throwing delight them. The middle school child, on the other hand, wants

to learn more complex skills and get involved in team sports. This is also

the best time to learn about rules and discipline in sport. The older

school child is ready for more adult-like activities that need greater

structure and discipline, like dancing, gymnastics, music classes etc.

Social Domain:

Young children are observing others and will be interested in games where

they play the roles of family members. They develop short-term friendships

and need an adult's presence to assure them. The middle school child is

intrigued by society and will love trips to factories, public buildings

etc. They want to know the 'how' and 'why' of things. The older school

child is ready to learn about different cultures, food and customs. They

want to do some amount of social work too.

Intellectual Domain:

Young school children will practice what they are learning. Middle school

children want to learn more skills and will show interest in reading,

drama and problem solving. The older school children are ready to research

and probe. They enjoy getting a puzzle and pondering over it.

Any after school program needs to address the interests of the child depending

on the category he belongs to. Knowing the children in your program and

appreciating their needs and interests will help staff to plan and

structure programs that are most useful to that group.

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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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Keeping Children Motivated

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 213)
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Initial enthusiasm in after school activities tends to wane after the

first excitement is over. This is but natural. The trick is to keep up the

hard work even after this. How do you keep your child motivated? This is

of particular importance when the child goes in for educational after

school programs.

Make the career-academics connection early on:

Let your child understand how important studies are. Let him know that

an excellent career is wholly dependent on wholesome learning. To develop

his interest in studies, plan family activities that are connected with

his studies. Emphasize the real-world connection to academics whenever

possible.

Set goals:

Let your child know, through example, that hard work will be rewarded. If

your child believes that achievement is a natural by-product of effort, he

is more likely to put in hard work. Such children are also less likely to

drop out of programs and college at a later stage.

Reward success:

When a child achieves something, it is necessary to praise his hard work.

Positive reinforcements enhance confidence and increase self-esteem.

Conversely, beware of criticism. It can ruin the frail ego of children and

play havoc with their minds.

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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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Benefits Of A Good After School Program

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 529)
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Children grow up in a society that demands expertise in everything. You

really cannot sit back and decide that learning from textbooks is enough

for the overall development of your child. It's the age of specialization

and your child cannot afford to miss out on this window of opportunity.

So, scour your locality for the most advantageous programs and enroll them

for the ones you think are the best.

After school programs are basically designed to develop a talent or a

skill that is ignored by regular schools. These programs could be

educational or recreational in nature. Whatever type they are, they

basically aim to keep the child active and interested.

The most important advantage of a good after school program is that it

widens your child's area of interests. He or she is introduced to new

things, sometimes interesting, sometimes challenging. Mastering a new art

form or a new skill increases the child's self-esteem. It also allows you

to introduce your child to new career options. A child attending a music

class may decide that she likes it so much that she wants to make a career

out of it in the long run.

Socialization is another great advantage of after school programs.

Children get to meet others who share their interests and make new

friendships. An acting class or a soccer class can be lots of fun. Many of

these programs coach children for performances or matches. Performing on

stage or playing a match can be a great experience for a young child.

After school programs keep your teenager busy. He or she thus has some

amount of protection from destructive habits like drugs and alcohol.

Surveys indicate that children who are kept busy through diverse absorbing

activities are less prone to abuse, depression and burnout. Significant

increase in achievement and attendance and a reduction in drop out rates

are other advantages of a good after school programs.

Most after school programs have children interacting with one or more

adult. This allows them to benefit from positive relationships with

adults. Children often find it difficult to confide in parents and

teachers, but may open up with other adults.

Many children are put into recreational after school programs so that they

reduce weight and remain healthy. A newly emerging trend shows that about

15% children below the age of 16 are obese. Parents who cannot put their

children on a strict diet resort to sports and games to burn fat. With

cases of child diabetes on the increase, this has become a prime focus of

many after school programs.

A good after school program has many benefits. It keeps the child

entertained as well as busy, and thus prevents children from becoming

addicted to TVs and PCs. By giving them ways to burn up their excess energy

and explore their creativity, after school programs help to shape the

overall personality of the child.

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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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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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How To Find After School Activities

(category: After-School-Activities, Word count: 236)
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Start off by making enquiries. Nothing can beat the power of information.

Approach the school authorities first. Find out if they are offering any

after school activities. Get a list of the various classes that are

available in your school. In case the school does not provide any

extracurricular activities for the child, approach your neighbors. Collect

information about any after school programs, the quality of the courses

taught and the timings etc. Also, check out some of the community

resources. These may include places of worship, community centers,

Museums, libraries, the YMCA, The Boys and Girls Club etc.

After you have colleted all the necessary information, discuss the various

options with your child. Find out what his interests are. The best way to

find out what is most suitable is to ask your child. When little children

are too small, you cannot completely rely on their feedback. In this case,

monitor the development of the child on a regular basis. If the child

shows excessive resistance to an activity, it may be necessary to look for

other options. Always consider your family's schedule when planning the

extracurricular activities. If it is difficult for you to chauffeur your

child, you may want to employ tutors at home or conduct some activity at

home itself.

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