After-school programs were introduced in the early 1900s as a form of extended childcare. Today, these programs have evolved into organized applications of play, academics, and hobbies. While the original benefit of childcare is still implied, many programs offer far more than babysitting.
When you enroll your child in an after-school program, you provide opportunities for personal, educational, and social growth. Throughout this article, we’ll explore more closely the benefits of these programs and how they might help your young learner.
Encourage Educational and Social Skills
According to a New York University study, after-school programs successfully improve educational and social skills. The study found that a positive after-school experience directly impacted academic scores of the 256 youth being observed.
Children diagnosed with social and behavioral issues also experienced a boost in self-esteem, which was reflected in future interactions and academics.
Foster Positive Classroom Behavior
All children need to blow off steam from time to time, but some struggle to find appropriate outlets. After school programs encourage students to find their passion. This inspires improved behavior and generates more focus on the prospect of a successful future.
Youth.gov, a government resource, mentions the potential of after-school programs to encourage a positive association with classroom learning. It helps children enjoy future learning and better manage emotions and behaviors in the classroom.
Incite a Greater Incentive to Finish School
As much as parents and teachers express the importance of education, some youth still choose to leave school early. Encouraging children to get involved with their peers offers a reason to continue. The same youth.gov resource shows a decrease in dropouts among students who participate in after-school programs. This suggests that students who take part in extracurricular activities are more likely to stay in school.
Promote Better Attendance
Whether it’s a sick day or the beach beckoning during homeroom, missing class can cause problems with future academic endeavors. Having fun with peers and interacting over a shared interest makes school more appealing. An impact report on after-school learning centers in New Jersey showed improved attendance, work ethic, and homework completion for students in after-school programs.
Being present during a lesson ensures young learners have the tools necessary to succeed. Missing classes encumbers this goal.
While there’s been an increase in early literacy campaigns across America, there are many students who still struggle with reading. A report submitted to the Institute of Education Sciences in Washington, D.C. saw students flourish in reading when participating in after-school programs. The type of program wasn’t important, as both academic and leisure-based after-school programs resulted in the same academic improvement. That makes after-school programs an attractive option for proactive literacy support.
iCode School and STEAM-based Programs
After school programs come in many shapes and sizes, from academic and sport-based to free-play programs. One thing they share is peer interaction and common interest. At iCode School, our after-school program combines these components with a specially designed computer science curriculum.
We use project-based learning to encourage young scholars to explore computer science in a fun and interactive way. With eight levels, we tailor each program to meet your child where they are, from our foundation belt, where students learn basic computer skills and algorithm encryption, to our black belt, where students learn advanced data structures and Java.
The iCode School after-school programs use a STEAM approach, combining science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Recent studies encourage the use of STEAM learning in classrooms, summer camps, and after-school programs. A 2014 dissertation from TAMUCC in Texas found project-based STEAM learning supported substantial growth in math, literacy, and science among students.
The Future of After-School, and What It Means for Your Child
All parents want to see their children succeed. After-school programs open doors to skills students will use for years to come. While much of the focus resides in academics, all after-school programs offer advantages. These include:
- Novel experiences
- Social engagement
- Learning new skills
- Building self-confidence
- Developing interests
As an additional benefit, after-school programs offer an economical option to parents looking for after-school care. These social settings, often with an academic basis, provide an appealing alternative to standard childcare.
Like all extracurricular activities, it might take some research to find the right program for your child. At least you know they’ll have plenty of fun along the way!