The importance of after school programs cannot be expressed enough. When we ask the question, what makes after school programs successful? We believe the answer is that after school programs provide several benefits for not only students but entire families.
The primary benefit is to have children participate in supervised activities and out of trouble and off the streets. The time directly after school to 6:00 p.m. is the most critical time of day for children who are not supervised by an adult. This is the time of day where children are at a higher risk of engaging in illegal behavior or becoming a victim of a crime. Keeping kids in a safe environment after school reduces juvenile crime and allows parents to feel better knowing their child is in a supervised activity.
A secondary benefit is helping students with what they learned during school hours. Assisting students with the completion of homework and the chance to practice what they leaned in school is beneficial for academic achievement. Students also have the chance to participate in physical activities. These activities help build stamina, release energy, reduce childhood obesity, and other youth related health issues. It also exposes children to activities that they may otherwise not have the opportunity to participate in, such as: dance, martial arts, and drama to name a few.
We believe that after school programs should be:
-Fun and entertaining to keep kids interested
-Structured and organized by age
-Academically based to enhance learning in a variety of ways
In this day of social media, where more and more people communicate without a face to face connection, after school programs allow for children to develop socially and to get along with others. It also allows them to be exposed to children outside the immediate family and make new friends.
When Prop. 49 was passed in 2002 by California voters, it was a huge victory for families across the state, it provided funding to open programs directly after school when children need it most. IMPACT…for a better future!
According to myschools.com here are a few critical characteristics of an effective after school program:
- Has clear goals and objective
- Responds to the needs and interests of youth, parent, and community
- Provides engaging and challenging activities that promote the development of academic, social and personal skills
- Links after school activities to the school day
- Hires trained, qualified and enthusiastic staff members who possess a genuine love for children.
- Provides a safe environment and nutritious snack
- Conducts evaluations to determine the effectiveness of the program.
The entire list can be found on their website.
Students thrive when we, motivate, involve, include, encourage, listen, respect, challenge, and engage them in quality programs. As a community, we must continue to value our young people and work together to help them grow into responsible adults. There is no time like the present to take action and make sure that quality after school programs stay in place and continue to provide our next generation with the tools they will need for their future and ours.
Until next time, remember, “We can’t do everything for everyone everywhere, but we can do something for someone somewhere” - Richard L. Evans