Benefits Of After School Programs

by : samkern

Is it necessary to enroll children in after-school activities when they have their hands full with academics and sports at school? It does seem so from the number of such programs that have sprouted and the big rush to join them.

The main benefit of after-school programs is it widens your child's interests. It helps him discover innate talent for some activity and provides an opportunity to hone it further. Constant practice makes him more confident. In this age of endless possibilities, the child needs a portfolio of skills besides academic learning to succeed.

Some of the social and psychological advantages that these programs confer are:
Reduction in juvenile delinquency. Most of today's 'keyhole' children spend long hours without parental supervision. Crime peaks in the hours immediately after school. Children are prevented from indulging in delinquent behavior if they attend an after-school program.

Reduction in risk-taking attitudes like drug abuse, alcoholism, dropout etc. If they did not have an engaging activity, children usually fall in bad company. Research has proved that peer pressure is the leading cause for alcoholism or substance abuse.
Enhancement of self-esteem. Participating in after-school activities develops the child's talents in arts or sport. By becoming skilled at it, he receives recognition and appreciation that boost his self-esteem. Some of these programs coach for competitions too. The sense of achievement acts as powerful motivator for excellence.

After-school activities discourage children from watching too much television and computer games. This has positive influence on the mental development. Attention deficit, hyperactivity, rebelliousness and other undesirable personality aspects are nipped.
After-school sports programs encourage children to participate in vigorous physical activity that they are sorely missing in the present lifestyle. Thus, they are essential to fight the demon of obesity. The stark fact that nearly 30% of kids under the age of 19 are overweight underlines the need for children to take up some sport for a couple of days a week. Sports build social skills like teamwork and coordination.

Children acquire social awareness by working in a group. They learn how to become a responsible citizen by following rules. Socialization is another skill that they pick up. They shed shyness or inferiority complex and learn to adjust well in a group.

They learn the value of family ties as well as how to develop a positive relationship with elders. The supervisor or mentor is usually the guide and friend of the child.

Children who attend after-school programs develop better communication skills. They also learn how to think on their feet. Besides improving school attendance and academic performance, the programs reinforce school learning with practical application.

Although after-school programs are recreational and educational, discipline is the cornerstone if the child has to reap the full benefits. Therefore, the mentor or the coordinator needs to lay down the rules clearly and correct aberrant behavior. Mostly children misbehave because they crave for attention. By being firm and sympathetic, the teacher could influence them to follow the rules.