Do you know when the peak times for crime and other dangerous behaviors takes place for teenagers? Unfortunately, teenagers are most likely to participate in these kinds of behaviors during the afterschool hours. Most parents wonder where their children are after school, but often don’t actually follow through with them to see what they’re doing. This can have a long-lasting effect on children that isn’t easy to change. This problem is pervasive and worrisome, as more than 14 million children leave school every day without anywhere to go.
This happens mostly because affordable afterschool programs are hard to come by. The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center conducted a study in which nine out of ten Americans thought that all children should have afterschool programs available to them. Two-thirds of the parents surveyed said they had difficulty finding any local programs.
With all the studies on afterschool programs, you might be wondering what benefits are associated with them. These programs offer a variety of benefits to both the children and their parents. Let’s take a look at what the top five benefits of afterschool programs are.
- Safety and Health – As stated before, most youth violence and crime-related activities happen in the afternoon after school. Afterschool programs, by nature of being something to keep kids busy after school, lessen the number of youth-related crimes significantly. However, this benefit goes deeper than just keeping youth away from potentially criminal activities.
Kids who participate in afterschool programs significantly improve their social and behavioral skills, leading them to a positive track toward success. Participating in these programs encourages school attendance and can even have positive health outcomes with the youth, lessening obesity and drug use.
- Improved Engagement in Learning – Afterschool programs not only increase school attendance, they also improve the level of engagement children show while they are in class. Greater engagement during class leads to children performing better and eventually getting into higher-quality high schools. Once there, the children often participate in college-preparatory classes, further preparing them to apply and be accepted to a university.
- Improved Performance and Test Scores – If children are better engaged in learning on a day-to-day basis, it makes sense that their test scores and overall performance would improve exponentially. Since afterschool programs encourage kids to start participating more in school, they naturally perform better when it comes to test and grades. Afterschool programs often involve the work of mentors and tutors to help kids with subjects that are giving them trouble.
- Comfort for Working Families – Families where both parents are working find that having their children enrolled in afterschool programs brings a level of comfort that isn’t achievable through any other means. Working parents who worry about children after school often miss more work than others, and having children enrolled in afterschool programs can alleviate that fear. Less worry leads to working parents having more energy in the evening to spend time with their families.
- Less Negativity for High Risk Children – Children in low-income families often have the most problems when it comes to health and safety. While afterschool programs can benefit every child involved, the benefit is greatest for high-risk children that come from low-income families or unstable backgrounds. These children cling to the afterschool programs and benefit greatly from them, leading to exponential improvement in health, grades, and home life.
Push for More Programs
The benefits for afterschool programs are many, but their availability is severely lacking. As a parent, you may be concerned by the lack of programs in your neighborhood. If you want to get involved, take time to find out about organizations in your area that support afterschool programs and want to bring more to the community. More people supporting the funding of these programs can only lead to more being created.