Afterschool programs have long known that they can embrace the hours between the time school closes and parents return from work to provide children, especially those who don’t have access to other activities, with exciting, engaging experiences that will help them learn academic, social and professional skills. The research result is clear: children in quality afterschool programs are more likely to come to school and stay in school, more likely to hand in their work and get better grades.
Afterschool programs are at the cutting edge of combining education and youth development, creating programs that children want to attend — where hands-on, fun creative learning is the norm. Afterschool educators plan carefully to ensure the curriculum is exciting so that the students will come back.
Parents choose to send their children to these programs because they know that will help their children succeed in school and develop professional skills that will help them in the workforce.
Benefits for Youth, Families & Communities
Effective afterschool programs bring a wide range of benefits to youth, families and communities. Afterschool programs can boost academic performance, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health and provide a safe, structured and happy environment for the children of working parents.
- Attending afterschool programs can improve students’ academic performance. A national evaluation found that over 40 percent of students attending 21st Century Community Learning Center programs improved their reading and math grades, and that those who attended more regularly were more likely to make gains (Naftzger et. al., 2007).
- Effective afterschool programs can improve classroom behavior (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2010), school attendance, academic aspirations, and can reduce the likelihood that a student will drop out (Huang, Leon, La Torre, Mostafavi, 2008).
- Participation in afterschool programs has been associated with reduced drug use (Investing in Our Young People, University of Chicago, 2006) and criminal behavior (UCLA National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, 2007).
- Afterschool programs can play an important role in encouraging physical activity and good dietary habits. Participation in afterschool programs has been associated with positive health outcomes, including reduced obesity (Mahoney, J., Lord, H., & Carryl, 2005).
- Working families and businesses also derive benefits from afterschool programs that ensure that youth have a safe place to go while parents are at work. Parents concerned about their children’s afterschool care miss an average of eight days of work per year, and this decreased worker productivity costs businesses up to $300 billion annually (Brandeis University, Community, Families and Work Program, 2004 and Catalyst & Brandeis University, 2006).