Successful After School Programs
What marks a successful after school program? What are the things that you
should look for when enrolling your child into one such program? Other
than the obvious advantage of learning something new, successful programs
incorporate many things that help the development of the child.
Development of social skills is one of the more important objectives of a
good after school program. In a recent survey, parents indicated that
while they do want their children to respect others, they also wanted them
to imbibe skills like getting along with other children and getting used
to children outside the immediate circle of friends. Many children find it
difficult to make new friends and get along with people outside their
Good after school programs place special emphasis on security and safety.
They keep children out of trouble and keep them safe. A good after school
program should be fun, especially when the children are young. If the
activity is fun, you will not have to worry about keeping him interested
or motivated. To be effective, programs should be organized and
structured. They must also suit the age of the child. The child must be
aware of the purpose of the program, and must be convinced that they are
attending the programs to accomplish something.
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.
School Based After School Programs
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.
After School Safety Tips And Reminders
When parents send their children for after school programs, they take it
for granted that the child is safe. But since the number of children
participating in these activities has increased, it is necessary to look
into safety issues.
Children are vulnerable when they are outside the classes. While going or
returning, they should know the safest route to take. Many kids hang out
with their friends just after these classes. Find out 'danger zones' from
your neighbors and make the children aware of these.
The child has to know how to handle emergencies. It is better to discuss
various scenarios with your child. Tell her what she should do in case the
class is suddenly cancelled. Show her the first-aid kit at home and make
sure she knows whom to call in an emergency. Post any important contact
information in a place that is easily accessible to the child. If the
child will be alone at home, discuss a few unexpected things with her.
Tell her to use the safety chain ALWAYS.
Relay on your neighbors and friends when needed. Let your child know who
can be contacted at times of emergency. Ask your child to check in by
phone. Above all, always tell the child to be in a group. Visiting toilets
all alone or going home via isolated streets must be avoided.
Over Scheduling Kids
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
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
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.
After School Activities For The Overweight
Research and studies show that our children are growing fater by the
day. Many families all over America are struggling to keep the weight of
their children within reasonable limits. As a parent, I know that it's
nearly impossible for me to look into the tear-filled eyes of my son and
So, what's the alternative? Studies show that the number one reason for
obesity in children is not junk food and colas. It's actually TV.
Children tend to plop themselves on the sofa and munch away happily when
they are in front of the TV sets. But, once the set is off, their natural
buoyancy will lead the children to do stuff and to move their body. THey will then be diverted from eating.
Recreational after school activities are a must if you feel that your
child is beginning to put on undesirable fat. It is better to begin these
activities as early as possible. The more weight the child gains, the
harder he has to work to shed it. Football, swimming, skating and Karate
are just some activities he can participate in. Structured and disciplined
exercise is possible only when one is put into a formal environment. That
is why an overweight child simply HAS to be put into an after school
program of this kind.
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.
After School Activity For The Hyperactive Child
ADHD refers to attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder. Most children who
suffer from this disorder suffer from attention problems as well as hyperactivity. Parents of such children are well aware that inattention and hyperactivity continue throughout the day. Keeping such children busy after school hours can be as difficult as keeping them safe during the school day.
The first step while choosing the right after school activity for your child is to understand how ADHD affects him. Is your child interested in sports? Is he put off by the fierce competitiveness, or does he find it hard to get along with teammates? Does your child vocalize his feelings, or is communication a problem?
For a child suffering from ADHD, physical exercise is always beneficial. Exercise takes up the extra energy and helps to stimulate the brain. Team activities teach social skills and discipline. But, if your child shies away from team sports, you may want to look at activities like dancing, cycling, swimming or gymnastics. Martial arts not only teach techniques of self-defense but also teach self-control and patience.
If your child shows aversion to sport and shows inclination towards the fine arts, you may need to look at some other options. Acting classes are a wonderful form of creative exercise. It also provides the child with ample opportunity to develop his social skills. Music, art or dance can help the child to keep himself busy and entertained.
In case the child is not interested in any of the above, you may want him to join a Boy Scouts club or other community oriented clubs that take up social work. Cleaning a park, putting on a show, helping out in an old age home are various activities that may pique your child's interest.
Whatever form of activity you choose, make sure that you monitor your child's progress periodically. If you feel that there is no progress, you may need to change the activity. Anything that increases your child's self-esteem is good. You may enlist the help of the coach or teacher to assess your child's development.
There are certain activities that are detrimental to a child suffering from ADHD. Computer and video games are a definite NO. Since these games need no interaction, children will feel all the more isolated. These children also find it difficult to distinguish between the good and the bad messages. They may therefore show an inclination to stick to messages that are not needed. Games that need the child to sit and wait for his turn patiently tax his patience and will not be a success.
Although you would want these children to be as near to normal as possible, understanding their needs and limits will help you select the right after school activity - one that is fulfilling, tiring as well as challenging.
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