After school programs do more than just fill the gap between the final school bell and when parents get home from work! Sports programs, classes, tutoring, and other great organizations help fill that time with productive learning where children gain invaluable skills and experiences that will be useful for years to come. Here are some impactful benefits of after school programs:Improve grades and test scores
Many after school programs provide help with school assignments and test prep in an environment that differs from the traditional classroom setting. This can offer students that may be more shy the ability to be in a smaller, more comfortable space to receive help and ask questions. After school programs may even provide a fresh outlook on a school subject, getting students more interested in a topic they may not have been before. After all, students who are excited about learning are bound to perform better in school!
Learn and develop soft skills
After school programs are a great opportunity for kids to learn teamwork and other valuable soft skills like communication and collaboration. Often the theme or purpose of after school programs is devoted to developing these characteristics. Grit, determination, empathy, and problem solving are just a handful of the amazing soft skills that can be gained from participating in after school programs.
Create a sense of community and belonging
Many after school programs focus on socialization and forming friendships. These experiences can boost self esteem and confidence, leading to improved behavior in and out of school and fewer emotional problems. If after school programs are run outside of children’s schools, it can be a great opportunity to meet new friends and make connections in new environments.
Prevent risky behavior
According to After School Alliance's research, more than 15 million students, including approximately 3.7 million middle schoolers, are alone and unsupervised between 3 and 6 p.m. In this gap of time, juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes are at their highest. After school programs are an effective deterrent for these kinds of behavior and provide a safe space with reliable supervision. When kids spend the time after school in a program where they can learn new skills and build friendships, the benefits are endless and their potential is unlimited.
Build tools for successful futures
After school programs offer kids a way to explore interests and hobbies that could lead to college majors and career paths later on. For example, a coding program may lead to an interest in computer science or engineering. Many after school programs provide an outlet for new experiences and interests that may not be as easily discovered in school. In addition to this, after school programs effectively build interpersonal skills that will be invaluable throughout students' academic and professional careers. Skills learned at an after school program at age 10 could set the stage for landing that awesome job at age 22!