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Why After School Activities Are Important To Your Child?

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

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 ennui too.


Obesity is a matter of growing concern in United States. 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 computer games.



After School Activities in Social Development


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.



After School Programs Categories


After school programs can be divided into 3 broad categories: academic, recreational and social. Balanced development takes place when there is compatibility between the physical, mental as well as the educational achievements of the child. As the name suggests recreational after school programs are based on a sport or recreation. Some of the more common physical activities include football, swimming and basketball. Some clubs offer programs like gymnastics, trekking and hiking. In this case, youngsters are often given a short class in first-aid class also.


Recreational After School Activities


Recreational after school programs offer children an opportunity to let off some steam and to destress themselves. The closed classroom atmosphere and a day full of textbooks and writing cause the child to repress his natural enthusiasm. He curbs his energy when he is required to sit quietly in class and learn.


Physical activity is an all-time low during such times. This physical lethargy and inaction is countermanded by recreational activities. Growing concerns of obesity and child diabetes make it necessary for children to indulge in some strenuous exercises that will allow them to work up some sweat.


Unlike educational programs, recreational programs do not tax the mental processes. But, they do aid the learning process by making the child more active. A child who is physically active is mentally fit, and is able to focus his thoughts on the work at hand. Additionally, recreational programs teach discipline, mechanics of teamwork and fair play. These are important lessons in the growing process.



Recreational Programs and Socialization


As more and more nuclear families emerge, the child faces greater isolation. Many children shuttle between their classroom and their bedrooms and do not have any meaningful relationships outside these. Recreational programs offer ample avenues for socialization. This is a place the child can go to and play even when his neighbor is not the most welcoming. The Boy / Girl Scout programs are excellent recreational after school programs. Lately, survival classes and camps have devised to combine important survival skills with sports and games to educate children on how to handle emergencies.


Like any good after school program, recreational programs are designed to give children a safe area where they can indulge in some group activities that interest them. This is one of the most effective ways to keep kids out of the streets and out of trouble. But, one has to be careful when enrolling children for recreational classes. The age of the child, his temperament and his physical caliber has to be taken into account before you choose the right program for your child.



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.


As mentioned above, 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 group.


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.





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