What an After-School Program Can Do for Your Child

YMCA of Greater Cincinnati

When your child is attending an after-school program, not only will your child be supervised and safe while you work, but these types of programs can also help nurture your child's development by offering a number of other benefits. High-quality programs do more than keep kids busy and entertained after school. They address issues central to a child's social, emotional, academic, and physical development.

Community Development

After-school programs encourage a spirit of cooperation and respect among children and the adults supervising them. Kids improve their social skills by learning to comply with rules, share, and take turns.

They also learn the value of teamwork by participating in a variety of structured and unstructured activities with other children, in which they must respect the opinions, values, and rights of others. Teamwork skills help children succeed in sports, school, and the community. Generally, the more experience children have in communicating, collaborating, and networking with others, the better they get at it.

Socialization

These programs also offer the opportunity for kids to connect and socialize with other children outside of school. These programs expose children to positive peer influences by giving them the chance to develop new friendships.

By meeting new people and interacting with both children and adult staff members, kids develop a sense of belonging as they begin to feel like they are part of a group. Attending after school-programs also helps children build trusting relationships with adults other than their parents and extended family members.

Expanded Interests

Sports programs and after-school classes in music, dance, gymnastics, and other cultural and social programs can help children develop talents and other hobbies. Extracurricular activities give kids the opportunity to explore and pursue new interests in addition to the opportunity to interact with children who share similar likes and interests.

Kids need exposure to experiences that build their confidence and increase their desire to take on new challenges and try new adventures. That's how they learn and discover talents and skills they didn't know they had. Mastering new skills incites a child's excitement and boosts self-esteem. Consequently, after-school programs can play a key role in helping children expand their comfort zones.

Health and Wellness

Some programs contribute to an active lifestyle by encouraging children to take part in regular physical activity. They can participate in recreational activities that are designed to be fun, exciting, and help do the following:

Build strong bones and muscles Develop gross and fine motor skills Maintain flexibility
Improve balance and coordination

In view of these benefits, pediatricians point out that 60 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity for school-age children builds cardiovascular fitness and helps keep them healthy.

Emotional Wellbeing

Besides providing support and positive reinforcement, some after school-programs take it a step further and teach children strategies for how to deal with stress. The staff also may be trained to recognize the warning signs that a child is depressed or suffering another mental health issue.

Program administrators can then connect the parents of at-risk children with the appropriate social and mental health services for a comprehensive assessment, and they can provide referrals to interventions or support services the child may need.

Academic Success

After-school programs that offer help with homework are valuable tools in providing a child with additional academic support. Children often feel less stressed completing homework in a more relaxed environment. Teachers who work in after-school programs feel less stressed as well and are able to offer more individualized attention to children who need help with homework.

The findings of several studies that looked at a number of after-school programs over the past twenty years also suggest that regular participation in a well-designed after-school program may contribute to a child's academic success. Research shows that middle school students in particular are more competent, get better grades, achieve higher scores on achievement tests, miss school less often, and behave better in school when they regularly attend an after-school program.

If you are looking for fun but stimulating childcare programs where your child can continue to learn and build social skills, contact the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati for more information.

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