Unstructured time outside of normal school hours is when children and young adults are the most susceptible to bad influences which may lead to making negative choices. No question about it, children and young people benefit from being engaged in structured pursuits outside of family and school. We believe that the best types of extracurricular activities should offer opportunities for positive interactions with adults and peers, encourages participants to contribute and take initiative in a group setting, and contains challenging and engaging tasks that help them develop and apply new skills and personal talents.
TOP 7 BENEFITS
1. Changing Environments
It is important for children to be exposed to new and different experiences and environments during their development. Keeping the environment fresh, providing new and changing experiences will add ammo to a young person’s recollective memory. The more positive activities they are exposed to, the more life experience they will possess. Which has been proven to increase a young person’s self-esteem.
2. Specialized Skill Development
Some after-school activities are specialized in nature only concentrating on 1 or 2 specific disciplines. Examples are computer coding, violin playing, and so on. The ability to let a child select a specific activity to specialize in will really set that child apart from children participating in more “traditional after-school programs”. This also applies to participation in physical activities as well, of course. Participating in a specialized physical activity will provide a young person with an enhanced skill set, which will increase their self-esteem. Examples of such activities are boxing, Jiu-jitsu, golf, and more. The specialized skill-developing after-school programs are great, but they tend to be lacking in one area, social development. Which is something to consider when selecting an activity.
3. Personal and Social Growth Through Team Activities
There are two main types of after-school team activities. The first aspect is the traditional sports route. Where a young person becomes part of a team and practices throughout the week for an event such as a match, scrimmage, or game. This competitive element can be very rewarding in the sense of accomplishing the goal of putting the hard work that was practiced into effect during their game or event. At the same time, this competitive element can also be discouraging towards some young people. The other type of after-school team activities is similar to what we do at Hot Ground Gym®. We call these activities missions. Young individuals work together in a group utilizing trust, determination, and communication to accomplish a task for completion or for time. At the end of each week, there is a new mission to accomplish so there is a larger range of variety when it comes to team building activities. The main idea is whichever route that is chosen, having your young one participate in a team experience is beneficial for the child both personally and socially.
4. Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Afterschool programs succeed in improving feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem, by enhanced exposure to creativity and self-exploration. A young person can choose a program that sparks their interest and develop self-confidence and positive self-esteem towards something that they want to pursue. These types of programs become their “Happy Place” where they can hone their skills in such areas as problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-control, leadership, responsible decision-making, and enhancement of overall self-efficacy.
5. Reduction of Problematic Behaviors
Programs taking place during non-school hours have been shown to help reduce and/or alleviate problematic behaviors such as aggression, noncompliance, and “respect problems”. Keeping a young person engaged in a positive atmosphere is crucial as their young minds develop. The ability to have other positive role models outside of their family can show a united front between the activity and the family, and hold a child accountable for positive behavior inside and out of their household. More specifically, after-school programs act as a bridge in improving feelings towards school bonding (positive feelings and attitudes toward school), positive social behaviors, school grades, and achievements. We at Hot Ground Gym try to be that “Fun Uncle or Aunt'' you may have grown up with, in reference to our approach with the children. We try to be a positive role model in a young person’s life to help guide and teach them life skills crucial for their development. These types of environments can really help alleviate any and all types of problematic behaviors.
6. Helping Hand To The Working Parent
Engagement during after-school hours has many positive benefits not only for young people but for their families as well. There is strong public support for after-school programs, particularly from working parents who cannot be with their children immediately after school or during times when there is no school and families have to be at work. Having somewhere for a young person to go when school is over or school is not in session can be very hard to manage for any work schedule. These after-school programs can bridge the gap between hard schedules and keeping an engaging atmosphere.
7. Can Relieve Stress and Expel Extra Energy
A great way to relieve stress and expel extra energy that may have been pent up throughout the school day is through after-school programs. Finding a healthy way to redirect that energy can lead to better behavior and a young person who is happier because they have an outlet in which to channel their enthusiasm. That being said, when that outlet doesn’t exist that energy keeps building and can be involuntarily released at any time in the form of negatively viewed behavior. If you find your child bursting with energy when they come home from school, consider enrolling in an after-school activity.
In sum, after-school programs produce multiple benefits that pertain to young persons’ personal, social and academic life. Even though all of the needs of our children may not be met within one specific program, the myriad of after-school programs offered within the communities does, in fact, offer sufficient positive resources to meet the needs of our children, students, and parents.
Co-Owner of HGG