After School Programs

By: Karen Fusco

What's there to do after school for your child? Sitting around the house watching TV, playing endless computer games and snacking just won't cut it any more. When he gets restless, you get restless. If he's got more time than he knows what to do with, you should be considering after school programs - anything that will keep him busy for a few life-saving hours!

Most after school activities can be broadly classified into three types: educational, recreational and society-oriented. The third type usually comes in when your child is already a bit more grown up and can voice his own interests. Let's concentrate on the other two for now.

Educational Activities

Educational activities aim at furthering your child's knowledge. Her general awareness, her understanding and her memory are targeted and she is given a variety of techniques that will help her improve one or all of these. Programs such as intensive memory training and learning speed mathematics are educational after school activities. There are also academic programs that will go over your child's homework and review class work to help her gain more in-depth knowledge in her studies. In general, academic programs have a definite edge over fun and games, if parents feel that their child has a lot of catching up to do. But fun and games also have a place in a child's life.

Recreational Activities

Recreational activities include sports and games, fine arts, painting, dance, etc. The main thrust here is to have fun, and mastering new skills helps your child become well-rounded. Of course, classes become more competitive as he climbs up the ladder. As a bonus, many sporting events, competitions, stage performances and the like are held to encourage your child in his pursuits.

When we compare the merits of the two kinds of activities, there should be a balance in your child's life and recreational activities should be added to the daily grind of academics. They certainly are more often requested by your son or daughter and they provide a different kind of activity for them. Children don't enjoy learning unless they themselves feel curious about something. Many academic programs are standardized courses that are not too flexible. They have a general purpose and a well laid out methodology. After a full day at school, your child may feel bored. Further study may overwhelm him and make him feel frustrated. Burnout is very much a possibility here.

Recreational programs provide a welcome break from the monotony of learning and studies. The mental challenge and the physical exertion make your child feel a renewed zest, an excitement about what they're accomplishing and a pleasant sense of fulfillment. Group activity teaches her social skills, discipline and patience. It has been shown that children involved in extra-curricular activities generally do better in school than others. Sometimes closing the textbooks and playing a game or taking on an outside challenge may be the best way to handle one's studies. Think well-rounded here.

Whatever program you choose for your child, regular evaluation is the key to success. Measure his progress and make sure he's happy with the activity. If unsatisfactory, shift him out of the program and find something else. This activity may not match where his interest or talents lie. He should have the freedom to reject an activity if and when he feels bored with it.

For younger children, programs that combine the educational with the recreational seem to be best suited to their needs. In this way, children can have fun while they learn. And you can be assured that your kids are occupied with positive experiences while they're learning something new or solidifying what they've been taught in school.

Education
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