After school programs can be a great way for kids to explore their interests. It provides them with a sense of independence while still maintaining a safe, nurturing atmosphere. Often, when parents have to work longer than their child is in school, the child ends up sitting around at home with little guided activity. Left to their own devices, many children end up spending far too much time with the television or computer, never developing their interests or building a sense of independence.
What are after school programs for?
Generally, the point of an after-school program is to help children develop some skill or ability that is neglected by traditional schooling. This could be anything from karate or soccer, to music and theater. Even those activities/programs with a more recreational focus, offer children opportunities that they simply would not have in the course of a normal school day. This includes the opportunity for socializing in an environment that is less formal than a normal school, while surrounded by peers who share some common interest in the activity at hand.
How do they help kids?
An after-school program can help children in a number of ways. For a start, it can put them in connection with peers who share their interests. This is an important motivator for children to continue exploring their interest in something. Furthermore, by creating a space where children are able to explore their interests without the pressure to perform that they often feel in school, after-school programs allow children to build their confidence. When doing things that interest them, without the pressure to perform, children are more likely to become fully engaged in their activities, and therefore more likely to succeed. This success builds confidence.
Additionally, children love interactive activities. After-school programs are often able to offer children far more interactivity than the average day in school, not only with the adults present, but with the other children as well. Interacting more with their peers helps children to form strong friendships, and can create a network of support and encouragement that will help them later in life.
Keeping minds active.
Too much TV is not good for kids. Many children are left with little else to do in the afternoons when they get home from school. When they are not provided opportunities for stimulating activity, children, just like adults, will happily glue themselves to the tube for hours on end. After-school programs are a good way for a busy parent to offer their child just such engaging activities.
Keeping children safe.
After school programs also help to keep children safe. By offering engaging activities and a safe space in which to play, after-school programs keep children from spending too much time alone. They also lower rates of risky behavior. This isn’t just a question of keeping kids off the streets as middle-schoolers either. The research suggests that children who have access to after-school programs in elementary school are less likely to engage in risky behavior later on.
If you’re a working parent, it can be easy to feel like you don’t have enough time to make sure that your child is getting enough mental stimulation. If this is the case, consider signing your child up for after-school programs. These programs help kids become more engaged and independent, as well as keep them safe.