After school activities are a great way for students to participate in a safe and productive environment after school has ended. When the bell rings, it doesn’t mean a kid’s day is over. In fact, this time of day can actually be the most stressful due to the task of trying to get kids home safely and in a timely manner. The time after school is filled with ample opportunities for kids to continue their development and save parents the hassle of picking up their kids when the car line becomes messy.
Extracurricular activities are an integral part of a student’s educational journey, offering opportunities for growth, enrichment, and skill development beyond the classroom. These activities provide a structured and supportive environment where students can explore their interests, make new friends, and acquire valuable life skills. They are shown to provide a number of benefits for kids such as becoming more extroverted and responsible. Kids are also overall happier and healthier when they are engaged in things they enjoy doing.
For school staff asking themselves why after school activities are important, in this article we’ll delve into the numerous advantages of after school activities. We’ll also explore the different types available and provide insights on how to guide parents in choosing the right ones for their students. We’ll cover the following:
- Benefits of After School Activities
- Types of Extracurricular Activities
- How to Choose an Extracurricular Activity
- How to Guide Parents Towards After School Activities
- Consider Software That Manages After School Activities
- Frequently Asked Questions
Benefits of After School Activities:
Social and Emotional Learning:
After school activities help students develop essential social and emotional skills. Through teamwork, cooperation, and interaction with peers and mentors, students learn to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and build self-confidence. These experiences contribute to their overall emotional intelligence and interpersonal relationships.
Contrary to the belief that extracurricular activities distract from academics, they often complement classroom learning. Many activities, such as debate clubs, robotics teams, and math clubs, reinforce critical thinking, problem-solving, and time management skills. Engaging in these activities can enhance academic performance.
Active involvement in after school clubs and organizations fosters a sense of belonging and school pride. Students who participate in extracurriculars are more likely to feel connected to their school community, leading to increased attendance, better behavior, and higher academic motivation.
Nutrition and Physical Activities:
Many after school programs incorporate a focus on nutrition and physical activity. Students are encouraged to make healthy choices and engage in physical exercise, which can help combat childhood obesity and promote overall well-being. These programs often provide nutritious snacks or meals, ensuring that students are adequately fueled for their activities.
Some after school activities, such as internships, apprenticeships, and career-oriented clubs, offer valuable work-based learning experiences. These opportunities give students insights into potential career paths, help them acquire practical skills, and build their resumes for future educational and job opportunities.
When students have an activity to do after school, they can be safely accounted for. There is no possibility of them leaving school unattended or unaccounted for if they have a scheduled activity to go to. Activities are supervised and organized allowing students to be monitored.
They allow kids to do something they enjoy and be safe while doing it. This also lessens their chances of skipping school. If students have something fun with their friends to look forward to at the end of the day, it creates an incentive for them to participate in the whole school day in order to go to their activity afterwards. It has been proven that involvement in after school activities improves attendance and aspirations for continuing school in the future.
Activities allow your kids to be active, that is obvious, but this can also translate to their everyday life. Having some sort of physical activity every day is extremely important for the overall well being of kids and adults. Starting to be active at a young age will promote a healthier lifestyle for the future and allows kids to begin making healthy choices daily. A healthy body equals a healthy mind. After-school involvement can even prevent drug use and bad or criminal behavior in future years. When kids have an understanding of what is right for their body, they are able to carry this out the rest of their lives.
Emotional Stability and Overall Happiness:
Relationships in and out of school are crucial for kids to stay consistently emotionally secure. The relationship kids form with their teacher or other staff members are nurtured in after school programs. Participating in an after school program can become a time that a student can learn how to interact with others, develop interpersonal skills, and learn how to be respectful toward others. Activities promote practicing good character traits as well as teamwork.
Forming a strong bond between teacher and student will make them feel more comfortable. Being able to trust adult figures in school makes them more willing to ask questions or express problems they are having. Opening up this dialogue between a student and a trusted adult has prevented them from having to deal with things like bullying, low self esteem, or issues at home, on their own.
Increase in Academics and Test Scores:
Kids are shown to be more involved in school and achieve better grades if they participate in activities outside of the classroom. Youth.gov* states that “a national evaluation found that over 40 percent of students attending 21st Century Community Learning Center programs improved their reading and math grades, and that those who attended more regularly were more likely to make gains (Naftzger et. al., 2007).”
Better grades means more confidence, higher self-esteem, and a desire to continue to succeed. Activities are so beneficial to academics because they offer kids an outlet outside of studying and school that they can do well in. They are also practicing their use of proper time management. When homework and an activity is on their plate, kids quickly learn how to multitask and make the best use of their time. After-school programs can push them to be their best in all aspects of their life, not just in the classroom.
Exploring New Interests and Hobbies:
After school activities are all about variety. There are hundreds of different programs to explore in order to find the right fit. Kids may not always enjoy the first activity they try, but don’t worry, there are plenty more to explore and it is guaranteed they will find one they like. When kids have a clear idea of their hobbies and interests from an early age, it can help them make better decisions for their future.
If a kid has always enjoyed math club and learning math they may want to consider a career in engineering or IT. Maybe a kid loves to read or explain things to their peers, they could consider a future job in teaching. Activities are much more than a way to fill time after school. They can help them understand a lot about their likes and dislikes along with their strengths and weaknesses.
Creating Friendships and Building Confidence:
Confidence is something that many kids struggle with, particularly in their pre-teen into their teen years. Participating in activities with their peers allows relationships to be cultivated and sustained. Some of the closest friends a kid has are developed in elementary/middle school. Getting out and getting involved while interacting with classmates is a great use of time.
There are also opportunities for kids to become leaders in their specific activity. Having good communication skills and being outspoken helps kids have a more active voice. According to noodle.com* “The Boys and Girls Club study revealed that 82% of teens in the program took part in leadership roles such as student council, being in charge of activities or assisting in the office.” The vast majority of students who participate in activities are setting themselves up to stand out in the future.
Everyone must learn to work well with others. Practically every job requires communication skills and working alongside others. Giving kids the experience of working toward a common goal or to accomplish a task with others is priceless. This will be a transferable skill they will take with them the rest of their lives. What is particularly important is having kids learn to work with someone they may not necessarily like. This opportunity allows them to become independent problem solvers and move past a situation they may find uncomfortable.
Supporting Working Families:
After school activities provide a safe and supervised environment for students when parents or guardians are still at work. This support can alleviate the stress of coordinating schedules and ensure that kids are engaged in productive and enriching activities during their out-of-school hours.
Knowing that kids are engaged in something productive that they enjoy after school is reassuring. According to youth.gov* “Parents concerned about their children’s after school care miss an average of eight days of work per year, and this decreased worker productivity costs businesses up to $300 billion annually (Brandeis University, Community, Families and Work Program, 2004 and Catalyst & Brandeis University, 2006).”That two or three hours after school that they spend at their activity can make all the difference for parents and what they need to get done for the day.
The benefits of afterschool programs are numerous and play a pivotal role in nurturing the potential of our youth, fostering academic excellence, enhancing social and emotional development, and ensuring a brighter future for our communities.
Types of Extracurricular Activities:
There are a wide range of after school activities to suit various interests and talents. Some common types include:
- Sports and Physical Activities: Soccer, basketball, swimming, dance, and martial arts.
- Arts and Creative Clubs: Art, music, drama, and writing clubs.
- Academic: Debate clubs, math teams, science clubs.
- Clubs and Organizations: Student government, environmental clubs, chess clubs.
- Volunteer and Service: Community service projects, youth volunteer organizations.
- Technology: Coding clubs, robotics teams, cybersecurity workshops, engineering clubs.
- Career-Oriented: Internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing.
- Cultural and Language Clubs: Language learning, cultural exchange, and heritage clubs.
High School After School Activities:
High school students can benefit greatly from a variety of after-school activities that cater to their interests and needs. Academic enrichment programs such as tutoring or homework clubs provide crucial support, helping students excel in their coursework. Additionally, extracurricular activities like sports teams, drama clubs, and debate societies allow students to explore their passions, build teamwork and leadership skills, and boost self-esteem (not to mention look great on college applications).
Career-focused clubs or internships can offer valuable insights into future professions, while community service initiatives instill a sense of responsibility and empathy. High schoolers can also engage in creative pursuits like art, music, or coding clubs to develop their talents and broaden their horizons. These diverse after-school activities not only enrich their education but also encourage personal growth and a well-rounded high school experience.
How to Choose an Extracurricular Activity:
Choosing the right after school activity for kids involves considering their interests, abilities, and goals. Here are some steps to help you make an informed decision:
- Identify Interests: Consider a kid’s passions, hobbies, and talents. Choose an activity that aligns with their interests to ensure they remain engaged and motivated.
- Evaluate Time Commitment: Assess the time required for each activity and ensure it fits within the kid’s schedule without compromising academics and rest.
- Consult Teachers and Counselors: Encourage parents to seek advice from teachers and school counselors who can provide insights into suitable activities based on a kid’s strengths and areas for growth.
- Attend Information Sessions: See that parents are invited to attend informational meetings or open houses for various clubs or organizations to learn more about their goals and expectations.
- Trial Period: Encourage kids to try out different activities for a brief period to determine which one they enjoy the most.
How to Guide Parents Towards After School Activities:
There are a number of resources to find an activity tailored to each student’s interests. Guide parents to start by looking into activities their school provides. They can ask the principal what activities they have to offer. Many times the search will stop here because schools tend to offer a wide range of programs. If a student is looking to do something a little different or more out of the ordinary, they can begin by asking parents, teachers, administrators, neighbors, or even coworkers.
Next, they can contact community organizations. There are a ton of resources right in their own neighborhood that are often overlooked. They can try places like the YMCA, The Boys and Girls Club of America, parks and recreation departments, and even local churches. Libraries and museums are also a good resource. Many times, an activity is associated with a bigger company. Doing a little research to find out what company that activity is affiliated with can open the door to even more program options.
It is important to keep in mind through this process that they should seek to find the activity that works best for their kid. If they feel their school is offering only activities that their student would not be interested in, encourage them not to give up.
Consider Software That Manages After School Activities:
Solutions like the Pikmykid school safety and dismissal platform play a crucial role in managing after-school programs effectively for many schools. By providing a streamlined and efficient platform, Pikmykid simplifies the complex process of student dismissal to and from after school activities, ensuring the safety and well-being of students at the end of the school day.
With its user-friendly interface, it empowers school staff and parents to communicate seamlessly on when and by whom students are checked into and out of after school activities. Thus, it reduces miscommunications and potential safety issues that may otherwise occur. If a club or sport is cancelled or modified, Pikmykid enables staff to easily message parents of students signed up with updates.
Pikmykid’s technology not only enhances security but also brings convenience to the daily routines of parents and educators as parents designate on the platform which of their students will be going to which after school activity, and on which days. This ultimately contributes to a smoother and more organized after-school program experience for everyone involved.
Schools can also use the built-in reports to monitor attendance in different extracurricular programs and help plan for future, new after school activities.
Request a demo to see how Pikmykid works to make managing after school activities a streamlined and safer process for everyone involved.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the benefits of after school activities for kids’ development?
After school activities promote social and emotional learning, academic support, school participation, and various life skills. They can enhance self-confidence, teamwork, time management, and more, contributing to a well-rounded education.
How do I balance academics and extracurricular activities?
Balancing academics and extracurriculars is crucial. Ensure kids’ schedules allow for both homework and rest. Encourage effective time management and prioritize tasks to maintain a healthy balance.
Do extracurricular activities affect a kid’s academic performance?
When chosen wisely and managed effectively, extracurricular activities can have a positive impact on academic performance by improving skills such as critical thinking and time management.
Why are after school programs important?
After school programs are important because they provide students with a safe and structured environment where they can engage in enriching activities, receive academic support, and develop essential life skills, contributing to their overall growth and success.
Are there financial considerations when enrolling a kid in after school activities?
Some activities may come with fees or require specific equipment or uniforms. Investigate any potential costs associated with the chosen activity and inquire about scholarships or financial assistance if needed.
How can I support students’ involvement in after school activities?
Offer encouragement and guidance for parents on how to provide transportation or logistical support as necessary. Invite parents to attend students’ events or performances to show their support and interest in their pursuits.
Can after school activities help with college admissions?
Yes, colleges and universities often value extracurricular involvement as it demonstrates a well-rounded applicant. However, quality over quantity is important. Encourage kids to excel in a few activities they are passionate about.
What if a kid loses interest in their chosen activity?
It’s normal for kids to change interests over time. If a kid loses interest, guide parents to have an open conversation about their feelings and consider exploring new activities that align with their current passions.
Are there after school activities specifically designed for students with special needs?
Many after school programs offer inclusive opportunities for students with special needs. Encourage parents to check with their kid’s school or local community organizations to find activities that cater to their unique abilities and interests.
Remember that the goal of after school activities is to provide enriching experiences that align with a kid’s interests and contribute positively to their overall development. It’s important to encourage exploration while maintaining a healthy balance with other aspects of their life.
The benefits to youth of after-school activities are never-ending. They can help to keep them on a path toward success. They allow kids to find what they are passionate about and strive to do their best in it. Getting them involved helps to ensure their safety, productivity, and long-term happiness. The time they spend doing a healthy activity will teach them to make good decisions later on in their life. Making the most out of their present helps them to make the most out of their future.