Beyond the Classroom: Enhancing Learning Through After School Programs

In February 2008, Harvard published an article titled “Secrets of Successful Afterschool Programs.” In this article, the author, Amy Magin Wong, shares how the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) has been evaluating after school programs. The purpose of these evaluations, she says, was to see if after school programs had any merit. She says they were asking two questions: “Does participation in after school programs make a difference, and if so, what conditions appear to be necessary to achieve positive results?” The result? She says that, “A decade of research and evaluation studies confirms that children and youth who participate in afterschool programs can reap a host of positive benefits in a number of interrelated outcome areas — academic, social-emotional, prevention, and health and wellness. These are the skills that many suggest are necessary for youth to succeed in the 21st century global economy and world.”

So just how beneficial are after school programs? Let’s look at two of the primary ways these programs can enhance learning and help set kids up for success, both in the classroom and out.

Academic benefits of after school programs

One of the reasons after school programs are so valuable is that they give children extra time in between school and home to reinforce concepts they’re learning and work on subjects they’re struggling in. For example, tutors can spend quality, one-on-one instruction time after school focusing on subjects that students are having difficulty with, such as math or reading. This helps students do their homework more efficiently and keeps them on track with their peers in the classroom.

Sometimes family and life situations make it difficult for kids to get their homework done at home. After school programs can give kids a structured environment where they can study and get a start on their homework so that they don’t have so much to do when they get home. Additionally, if there are group projects to do, older kids have time to collaborate during the after school program instead of having to schedule a separate time to work on the project together.

Social benefits of after school programs

In the Harvard article mentioned before, Amy Magin Wong also says that after school programs have been proven to help children socially as well. She says, “Research has shown that participation in these programs is associated with decreased behavioral problems, improved social and communication skills, better relationships with peers and teachers, increased self-confidence, self-esteem and self-efficiency, lower levels of depression and anxiety, development of initiative, and improved feelings and attitudes toward self and school.”

We’ve always been advocates for play here at Smokerise Childcare. There is so much value to a child spending time with other children, playing games, running around on the playground, and using their imagination. Through play, children can learn how to communicate, how to problem-solve, and how to be a good friend. These are valuable skills that will stay with them well beyond their school years.

After school programs give yet another avenue for children to experience the love of Christ through individuals who genuinely care about them and want to invest in them. The relationships that children form with, not only their peers, but also their superiors during after school hours may impact them for the rest of their life. Sometimes work or other responsibilities make it so that you can’t pick up your child as soon as school lets out. At Smokerise Childcare, we aim to provide a safe, warm environment for your child to learn and play after school.

Contact us today at  Smoke Rise Childcare for more information about our after school programs, give us a call today!