Potentials Of After School Programs
With children becoming the primary focus of society, ways and means to
ensure their safety and development are being researched. The Government
too has pooled in to make a success of such programs. Here are some of the
reasons why after school programs have become so popular:
1) Preventing Juvenile Delinquency, crime and violent victimization:
About 10% of juvenile crimes happen between 3 P.M. - 4 P.M. Children need
to be kept safe and out of trouble at such times
2) Preventing alcohol, drug and tobacco use.
Risk-taking behavior that seeks to establish superiority in a clan is
mostly seen in 'latchkey' children. Children in their pre-teens, if they
have a meaningful relationship with a mentor, are less likely to indulge
in these kinds of destructive behavior
3) Decreases appetite for Television:
An average child watches about 23 hours of TV per week. When enrolled for
some activity, the child utilizes his mental and physical skills to meet
4) Improving academic achievements
5) Improving school attendance:
More confidence in self and increased interest in school leads to greater
attendance in school. A program that helps children with their homework
also gives the child a much-needed feeling of self-achievement.
6) Improved behavior and inter-personal skills
Children who attend after school activities handle conflict better and
cooperate more with authority figures.
7) Closer family and community ties.
The Learning Environment
There is often a trap in the words 'after school activities'. One may
easily believe that since these activities are after school, they are not
of much importance. But, one couldn't be more wrong. Research suggests
that children pick up some of their most important skills from after
school programs. That is why children who do not participate in any extra
curricular activities are generally slow and less vibrant.
The learning environment that one fosters in after school activities must
be as disciplined and as functional as that found in the school. This is
especially true of educational after school programs. This is the best
place to teach the child important skills like time-management and goal
setting. Time-management is a vital skill, but it is not achieved easily.
Children need to feel the discipline that is needed to finish a task and
the happiness of finishing the allotted work in a specific time frame.
Children look for different things in an after class program. The learning
environment should be attractive, colorful and informative. Use charts,
pictures, posters and drawings to liven up a class. Additional resources
(resources that are not easily available in the school) will make the
classes interesting. For instance, when teaching a biology lesson, allow
the child to see through a microscope or see slides of bacteria. This
will add to his knowledge and also make him more enthusiastic about his after school program.
Discipline is a must in after school activities. In fun or sport-based
activities, it is easy for children to step out of line and wreck havoc.
While children should be allowed to have fun, they should be curtailed
from unacceptable behavior. The best way to enforce discipline is to lay
down the rules at the very beginning. Let the children know what is
unacceptable, right at the beginning.
Rewards are an important part of any learning process. The reward can be a
simple pat on the back or a token of appreciation. Motivate your children
to aspire for higher things by rewarding their achievements. Holding
competitions or sport activities where the children can show their
proficiency is a reward in itself.
Children can get bored easily, especially in the case of an educational
program. The main thrust of an academic program is to repeat what has been
taught in class and to allow the child to learn it quickly. It is
difficult to pique the child's interest a second time, especially when the
child is already tired of one dose of the same lesson. It is best to
thwart boredom by using creative techniques like an impromptu extempore on
any topic, a quiz program or a slideshow.
After school activities are becoming more popular by the day. Parents want
their kids to learn more. Children too have an insatiable quest for
knowledge. In an after school program, it is possible to pay individual
attention and quench this thirst using various effective techniques.
A Home Based After School Program
So, your son's school does not offer any extracurricular activities. You
are worried of depriving your child of all that extra knowledge and fun.
What should you do?
After school activities need not be taught in a school-like environment by
professional teachers in a structured and timely manner. There is a lot
YOU can do to support your child's academic, physical and social
development. Do not be too concerned about formal programs, as many of our
children are already over-scheduled.
Obviously, school is top priority for children. They need to go to school,
and finish their homework. They should then do their daily reading or
writing work etc. This may take about 30-60 minutes. In the course of his
daily work, your child may develop certain academic preferences and
interests. In that case, you can try and find a program in a college or a
community center that will help him and encourage him. In the age of the
Internet, information is really not a rarity. Allow him to use the net to
find more information about thing that he likes. Encouraging the child to
do independent research to gain in-depth knowledge is something that no
formal program does.
If you are concerned about the lack of social life, enroll him or her in a
club - a reading club maybe. Visit public libraries or even the theatre,
if your child is interested. It is not necessary for your child to make
friends with children his own age. A parent-child book club is another
interesting option. If you can round up a number of like-minded children
and their parents, you may well start your own after-school program.
When there is no organized group activity, look to your community. Many
children love to get involved in social problems. They get their first
real taste of suffering, charity and community help from such experiences.
Volunteering for clean-up sessions, adult education programs etc could be
a real eye-opener for your child. The lessons thus learnt are invaluable.
If physical activity or the lack of it is your major concern, enroll your
child for some dancing classes. If organized sports are impossible to get,
try to enroll her in a gym. She may find friends there and may take to the
Your child does not necessarily have to be a part of an organized group to
benefit from after-school activities. There are various avenues open in
front of you. Roping in the enthusiasm of your children in daily household
activities like cooking, cleaning etc can also provide them with a
refreshing extracurricular experience. Moreover, it will improve family
After School Programs And Discipline
How important is discipline when it comes to after school programs? Since
most of the activities are recreational, does a program have to adhere to
strict rules? Discipline is just as important here as it is in
activities that pertain to the school. The child is sent to a program
because you want him to learn more. Discipline in one form or the other is
necessary to facilitate learning.
Every program should begin by laying down the rules. The supervisor or
teacher should explain each rule and can thus prevent future mishaps.
Misbehavior should be addressed as and when it occurs. Deal with the
problem in such a manner that it causes the least disruption. It is unwise
to turn a blind eye to misbehavior because it catches on like fire, and
soon you will have a bunch of unruly children on your hands. Besides,
however much they resist it, children like to operate within the safety
net of strict guidelines and rules.
When a child misbehaves, it is mostly due to a craving for attention. A
supervisor should observe the children and find out what the child wants.
Talk to the child so that you can understand what he or she wants.
Appropriate disciplinary measures should be taken if there are no apparent
reasons for bad behavior.
Quirky After School Programs
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.
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
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
Benefits Of A Good After School Program
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.
After School Activities And Relationship Building
After school activities are the rage of the day. With about $500 million
invested in these programs and more than 10 million children attending
them in America alone, the popularity of these activities cannot be
overlooked. Everyone understands the need to develop new skills, gain more
knowledge and keep the children safe when parents are working.
The most important factor in the success of any program is the
relationship between the children participating in the program and the
adult members who work with these children. Often, children may confide in
an adult member who is not a teacher. This kind of emotional interaction
is a must when children are struggling to make sense of the whirlpool of
emotions that assail them.
Direct contact with professionals can be an inspiring experience. Children
are very much impressed by the knowledge and experience of these adults.
Young people gain a lot of knowledge and experience when they deal with
experienced adults and older youth who serve as teachers or mentors in
these programs. These mentors are different from the teachers in the
school and children are more likely to draw inspiration from them.
After school activities that are managed professionally by people who are
successful in their own fields of expertise will produce children who are
more enthusiastic and successful. Meaningful interaction with adults is a
learning experience in itself.
Need For After School Activities
When children are literally up to their gills with the learning and sport
activities in school, it may seem superfluous to enroll them for after
school activities. In spite of this, after school programs are sprouting
up in large numbers and most of these are booked full. This shows that
there is a real need for after school activities.
The unavailability of parental supervision is the leading cause for the
surge in after school programs. It is seen that many children spend about
20-25 hours a week unsupervised and alone at home. And as the saying
goes, "An idle mind is a devil's workshop". Children who are left alone
to contend with too much free time invariably fall into the wrong
company. Drug abuse, alcohol, tobacco and crime come knocking at their
doors sooner rather than later. Parents enroll children to various after
school programs to keep them occupied in a productive manner. This way,
the kids are free to enjoy themselves in a supervised activity.
Crime is considered to be at its peak during the after school hours,
between 3- 4 p.m. During such a time, children need protection. Getting
the children together under one roof and encouraging them to participate
in a group activity is protection enough. It diverts the children from
Obesity is a matter of growing concern in this country. It is noticed
that more and more children are becoming couch potatoes. After school,
many of them relax on the sofa with packets of chips, cool drinks or
chocolates while they watch T.V. 30 % of the kids below the age of 19 are
considered overweight, and about 15% of these are obese. An after school
program ensures that the child shakes off his lethargy and keeps himself
busy. This also helps to reduce the child's fascination for T.V and
After school activities that promote social awareness develop the
individual's sense of social responsibility. It is seen that these sorts
of programs not only keep kids out of trouble, but also help to produce
responsible citizens. To that extent, they are valuable building blocks
in a child's personality.
Times are changing and parents want their children to excel in academics
as well as in other activities. This may be a reflection of the parent's
unfulfilled desire to excel - a remnant from his own childhood. Whatever
the reason, parents today encourage their children to enroll themselves
in various programs and develop the various facets of their
individuality. Children too seem to be comfortable learning many things
at the same time, and gain satisfaction from this.
How To Find After School Activities
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
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