Back-To-School: Deciding the best after-school activities for your child

“Children’s after school programs are a way for educators and mentors to transform and elevate the quality of education that students are receiving in the classroom. A variety of after school programs are available for students, including religious youth groups, study groups, sports teams and tutoring. Activity based, recreational programs offer children a playful outlet, rather than the more educational curriculum-based tutoring programs,” according to magic yellow.com. They stressed to be sure to understand some terms before going to visit the private and public after school programs that are available in your local community.

Mentor – A trusted person who acts as a teacher providing leadership, guidance, counseling and support to youth. Often mentoring troubled or under- privileged youth, mentors also sponsor and support families.

Community-based organization - Referring to youth clubs in the local community, these organizations can also include local sports clubs, a law enforcement group, an arts council or even a fraternal organization such as a Rotary club.

Recreation – After school recreation programs are not academic in nature, but rather allow students a chance to play, be creative, interact with others and learn specific skills. Recreational programs commonly include sporting activity and creative outlets, like music, dance and art classes. Summer and sports camps usually involve a lot of recreational activity, whereas educational based programs generally involve more studying.

Tutor – A person that is employed to instruct an individual or group in learning a certain curriculum. Students often utilize private tutors in subjects where they struggle to grasp the material or concepts that are presented by the teacher. Tutors help students excel in all academic subjects, including reading, math, English and science.

Writer and blogger, Mandy Cheney, compiled a list of things to consider when making the decision to put your child into extra-curricular activities for www.babble.com. She stated:

  1. Expense • Can you afford to do it? Big one here, if you can’t afford it, there’s your answer.
  2. Child’s confidence • What will this do for my child and his/her confidence?
  3. Sacrifice of the family • What sacrifices will have to be made in order for my child to be involved? Family dinner, naps, bedtime, etc… Are you willing to make those sacrifices?
  4. Stress • Will this add extra stress to my child, family or myself? (If so, it’s probably not the right time! Mama doesn’t need more stress.)
  5. What is the desired goal • What do I hope my child will get out of this activity?
  6. Is it age-appropriate • Is this something I should start them in now or would they benefit more from starting it later?
  7. Will this interfere with schoolwork • This is a big one for us. Academics comes first in my house and if we can’t keep up with school, well, adios soccer.
  8. Is this for me (the parent) or this for my child • Is this what I want or is this what my child wants? They should have a say in what they’re doing.
  9. What are their talents • Is this something that can help strengthen one of their talents? If so, it’s probably a good idea!
  10. What are their weaknesses • Would they benefit from some tumbling if perhaps they’re a little uncoordinated? My guess is yes. I’m all for strengthening a weakness as long as it doesn’t bring their confidence down.

Cheney states there are times when her kids want nothing more than to be lazy and quit everything. And she can totally relate. There are days when she wants to do nothing, too. But in the long run, they are grateful they have things to do and she sees their confidence spike when they’re able to master a new skill. When that happens, she doesn’t hear those complaints.

“Children’s after-school programs are vital to proper growth and development, as well as proper social interaction skills,” states magicyellow.com.  “Children’s after-school programs include such services as academic, care, reading, free, religion, Christian, karate, tutoring, teaching, child care, daycare, private, summer, math, English, early childhood and preschools services. Schools and learning centers sponsor after school programs, sometimes through initiative grants from local government. Kids require a certain amount of physical activity per day, through sports, recreational activities and exercise.

“They also need to keep busy, especially if their parents work long hours. After school programs can offer all sorts of activities, arts, creative play, music, therapy, counseling, languages, sports, leisure, fitness, culture, science topics, leadership skills, future employment skills, politics, world and international events, global issues and just plain fun. Check out your local community center or school to inquire about such government initiative programs for your child. Many after school programs have extended hours into the afternoon and evening for the youth of the community.

“Many schools offer extended day programs, offering themed activities and fitness fun. Ask your child’s school about any such programs. Inquire about any educational workshops offered, whether for parents or children. Such workshops can be offered at libraries, community centers and schools to give parents and children education advice and support. You can also find children’s after-school programs by looking in your local phone book or by searching online directories. Ask other parents for advice and recommendations as well. So whether you are looking to enroll a child in a kids’ development, learning, recreation, arts or other academic children’s after-school program, make sure you choose the one that is right for you.”

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