Parent Resources: Importance of After School Programs
Parents sometimes think of after-school programs as a way to get more time off to themselves or more time to clock out of work to pick their child up. But there are more important reasons to encourage your child to go to an after school program, and those reasons revolve around how it benefits your child’s physical activity, friendships, skills and potential to get into the college they want.
After school programs can involve competing in a sport. This gives your child the exercise they need.
After-school physical activity (and before-school activity) is important to students since it increases their overall physical activity and improves their grades and test scores.*
There are many mental and physical benefits to playing sports. The mental benefits include reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. The physical benefits include improved cardiorespiratory fitness, strong bones and muscles, controlled weight and reduced risk of developing health conditions.**
After-school programs are also useful in improving a child’s behavior. This applies to school life because the programs can “improve classroom behavior (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2010), school attendance, academic aspirations, and can reduce the likelihood that a student will drop out (Huang, Leon, La Torre, Mostafavi, 2008).”
Even more useful is that after-school programs “has been associated with reduced drug use (Investing in Our Young People, University of Chicago, 2006) and criminal behavior (UCLA National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, 2007).”
Learning New Skills and Aspirations
Suppose your child signs up for something out of their comfort zone. They may learn something new about themselves, such as a passion for engineering after joining a robotics club. Or a joining a classic movie club could spark an idea to get into the film industry in the future.
New clubs spark new interests. Some kids may have trouble in middle school and high school in terms of what they wish to major in at college. Let them know that going to clubs that revolve around different activities can help them decide what they like or do not like to do.
As teens go through high school, they need to start thinking about what programs to join to put on their college applications. Going to an after-school program like math club or drill team can show potential colleges a committed and well-rounded prospective student. That is the kind of applicant that colleges want to accept.
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health and Academic Achievement. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.
**US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee report. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2008
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2010
Huang, Leon, La Torre, Mostafavi, 2008
Investing in Our Young People, University of Chicago, 2006
UCLA National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, 2007