Published : Friday, September 28, 2018 | 7:30 AM
Many students in K-12 education enjoy participation in after-school clubs and programs. But do these extra-curricular activities really support children’s development? Or are they more of a way to fill an hour or two before home time? And with so many options out there, how do you know which are best for your child?
Research shows that there are important benefits to taking part in after-school activities. However, not all after-school programs are created equal, so it is important to select the right ones for your child’s needs. While some after-school clubs may provide little more than a babysitting service, high quality programs are available to stimulate and foster children’s abilities, interests, and personal development.
Studies have identified four main areas in which students participating in after-school programs have an advantage. Firstly, academic performance and motivation at school is increased through participation in extra-curricular activities. Look for programs that provide an open, comfortable environment to develop your child’s confidence. Homework support and booster classes given in a less pressured out-of-school setting can give students the guidance they need without the stress to perform that can inhibit them in the classroom.
Some of the greatest benefits of participation in the after-school environment are in the development of social skills and of personal confidence and emotional wellbeing. Find a program that deliberately fosters collaboration and teamwork, to ensure children will learn these vital skills at a young age. An additional advantage of after-school programs that take place off school premises is that children will get to interact with new people and develop their confidence. Being able to participate in activities which may be challenging and educational, but are also fun and exciting, also promotes self-esteem and a sense of achievement, which carries through not only to school but to all areas of life.
There is also evidence that after-school activities help children develop healthier lifestyles, either through providing physical activity, such as with sports, dancing, or martial arts, or through learning about healthy eating and lifestyle choices. In fact, any structured class that gets kids out of the house provides a much more active alternative to sitting at home playing video games, watching TV, or eating junk food.
Finally, a good after-school setting increases your child’s safety. The most vulnerable times of day for children, studies have shown, are between the hours of 3 and 6 pm. This is when children and teenagers are most likely to engage in risky behavior, get involved in crime, or be the victims of crime themselves. And certain out-of-school facilities that lack proper supervision can actually increase the level of risk for children’s behavior. To ensure your child has a safe environment to spend these critical hours, find a service offering structured activities, with plenty of adult supervision and guidance available. With those provisions in place, participation in after-school programs has been shown to reduce risk and keep children safer.
Regular participation has been shown to be a key factor in after-school success. It is therefore crucial to find activities that can sustain your child’s interest and motivation. The emphasis should be on fun first and foremost. After a hard day at school, children need to play, get creative, and enjoy themselves. Learning will follow if these elements are in place.
One burgeoning area of after-school programing is in STEM education. One of the advantages of this approach to science and technology learning is its emphasis on practical activities, providing accessibility for all students. A high-quality STEM program will provide all the most important ingredients for the after-school experience: fun, creativity, collaboration, and academic support.
At STEM World, a leading STEM education center located in Pasadena, the emphasis for their after-school workshops is on enjoyment, developing confidence, and inspiring excitement about STEM subjects. Structured, supervised activities are provided, designed to develop key skills in science and technology, so that prior knowledge and experience are not required.
An exciting and varied range of topics are explored in the science labs, while the Inventor/Creator Lab provides an opportunity for students to get creative and collaborate on various design and construction challenges. Popular Robotics and Programing courses are available to develop understanding in these areas, while advanced Teen Labs allow older students to develop expert knowledge in areas including cinema, drone technology, and aviation.
Check out the fun and educational after-school options at STEM World here.