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  • Writer's pictureHEAL Foundation

How After-School Programs Are Essential for Children's Health

Updated: Apr 4

Benefits of After School Programs. Here are nine things a high-quality afterschool program can do for kids.

After School Care Program for School Kids


Extracurricular activities upgrade a child’s day from good to great. Children need an outlet for

physical activity to better regulate their emotions. Additionally, after-school programs offer a

space for children to learn positive social skills.


In the long run, the benefits of after-school programs include improved physical fitness, enhanced academic performance, reduced stress levels, and increased self-confidence.


These programs offer a safe and structured environment for children to explore their interests, discover new talents, and form meaningful relationships.


Ready to learn more? Let’s go!


Benefits of After-School Programs for Children's Health


After-school programs play a crucial role in supporting children's physical, mental, and

emotional well-being. Let’s break down each advantage to learn more.


Physical Health Advantages

Mental Health Benefits

Improved Social Skills


 

Physical Health Advantages


Participating in after-school programs provides children with a structured and consistent time to be active. Whether it's playing sports, participating in dance classes, or engaging in outdoor games, after-school programs help keep children off the couch and on their feet. Regular physical activity not only improves heart health, but also strengthens muscles, enhances flexibility, and promotes the development of gross motor skills.



Mental Health Benefits


After-school programs also strengthen children's mental and emotional well-being. Engaging in activities they enjoy, such as art, music, or drama, can relieve stress. Children need an outlet for expressing emotions, boosting self-esteem, and developing coping mechanisms.


Some after-school programs incorporate mindfulness and stress reduction techniques, providing children with valuable tools to manage their emotions and navigate challenges. These coping tools are important to learn at a young age for life-long use.



Improved Social Skills


After-school programs are the best social network! When children have a structured and consistent time to hang out and an activity to guide them, it’s a win-win. They get to have fun and have the opportunity to strengthen their social skills. Children learn by watching others.


When adults can help curate an environment that is safe and welcoming, then children can positively interact with peers and foster positive relationships. Through group activities, discussions, and collaborative projects, children learn how to communicate effectively, listen to others, and respect diverse perspectives. These social interactions also help children develop empathy, tolerance, and a sense of belonging within a community.



Working in Teams


When children play together, they learn how to work together. Collaborative activities in after-

school programs, such as team sports or group projects, teach children the importance of

teamwork and cooperation. Children learn how to offer their skills and ideas while respecting the contributions of others.


These experiences help children develop leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, and effective communication, all of which are essential for success in both personal and structured environments.



Academic Support and Growth


After-school programs provide the space children need to grow academically. Some of the benefits include homework assistance, study habit development, a structured and supervised environment, and an opportunity to explore new interests.


Parents, caregivers, teachers, and school staff benefit too. It takes a village to raise children and we can work together.



Homework Assistance


After-school programs can provide individualized academic support as well. Many programs offer homework assistance, providing a structured and supportive environment for children to complete their assignments.


For some parents and caregivers, this is the support they need for their child. Some children are mentally checked out of school when they leave at the end of the day. When they get home, getting homework done is a battle. These children need to complete their homework at school before coming home at the end of the day. Some children do not have an adult available at home when the school bell rings. These children also benefit from after-school programs where they can get the support they need.



Developing Habits


Habits are formed at a young age. After-school programs can help children develop effective study habits and time management skills.


Through guided study sessions, children learn strategies for organizing their tasks, setting goals, and prioritizing their responsibilities. These skills not only benefit their academic performance but also contribute to their overall success in managing their time and responsibilities.


Activity-based habits are created with dance, running, and sport-related programs. The habit of learning through a hobby (an interest outside of your required work) has lifelong benefits.



A Safe Place


We want to keep our children safe and teach them how to make good choices. After-school programs ensure that our children are under the supervision of responsible adults who can provide guidance, and support, and intervene if necessary.


This supervision reduces the chances of children engaging in unsafe activities. By providing a structured and secure environment, these programs offer parents peace of mind, knowing that their children are safe during after-school hours.



Discovery of Interests


Children thrive when they are given space to explore their interests and learn more about themselves. After-school programs are a great place for them to try new things. By keeping children occupied with activities they enjoy and find meaningful, these programs minimize idle time.


Instead of being exposed to negative influences or engaging in unproductive activities like social media surfing, children are growing and learning. One example of a fantastic creative outlet is art. Whether it’s painting, drawing, music, or theater, an art after-school program fosters creativity and self-expression.


These creative outlets provide children with a place to express themselves, unleash their imagination, and develop their artistic skills. Participating in artistic activities also fosters a sense of accomplishment and boosts self-confidence.


There are many other kinds of activities that bring joy and help children try new things. Whether it's joining a coding club, learning a musical instrument, or participating in a science experiment, these programs expose children to different fields and help them discover their passions. This exploration of interests not only broadens their horizons but also helps shape their future goals and aspirations.



Key Takeaways


After-school programs are essential for children's health and well-being. These programs offer numerous benefits, ranging from improved physical fitness and better social skills to help with homework and support to make good choices.


We all want to support our children and help them to become wise, courageous, and good citizens. After-school programs provide an environment that supports their growth into great humans. Parents, educators, and policymakers can help make these programs happen by supporting initiatives that prioritize the holistic development of children.


When we invest in after-school programs, we are investing in the future health and success of our children.

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