Now that the holidays are over and the cold winter months are here to stay, are your kids getting restless and looking for something new to do? Now may be the perfect time to consider enrolling your child in an afterschool program. With the variety and quality of enrichment programs available today, they are bound to be exposed to interesting experiences and develop new skills.
According to the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP), involvement in afterschool programs has been shown to improve kids’ test scores at school, while also contributing to reading and math achievement among at-risk youth. In addition, drug and alcohol use, as well as teen pregnancies, are lower in students who participate in evening programs.
Another benefit to participating in an afterschool activity is the effect it can have on a child’s self-esteem. Tatyana Komarova, Executive Director of the International Talent Academy in Carmel, says, “We help students by involving them in our theater, public speaking and leadership classes and lead them towards developing their confidence, presentation and speaking skills.” She adds that they do not hold auditions and make sure that every student gets time on stage. After participating in the program, Komarova says that parents are often amazed with the boost in confidence they see in their children.
The right afterschool setting can help a child develop important social skills in a safe environment. Nikki Sayer, whose daughter participates in acting programs around Indianapolis says, “My daughter is an only child. This caused her to be a bit of a loner. Theatre programs have helped her open up so that she’s more outgoing and confident.”
The Indianapolis area is abundant with enrichment programs – from art, dance, karate, gymnastics, drama, music – even improv classes. Tom Robertson, an improv instructor for an afterschool program through IndyProv at IPS schools, says, “Improv is not something students would ordinarily study in school, but provides them skills that are so applicable to their lives in many areas.” Robertson says that most people think improv requires people to be funny, but it’s also great practice in listening.
Afterschool programs that focus on physical activity get kids moving and help them see the benefit of a healthy lifestyle. The camaraderie of teamwork and working toward a mutual goal can be an important experience for children, as well as seeing how practice and determination improve their ability.
What else can afterschool programs do for kids? Oftentimes, kids are exposed to new people and situations that they may not otherwise have the benefit of experiencing. Trying something new can develop a burgeoning interest or spark a new one. And more than anything, afterschool programs are fun! With so many possible benefits available from various enrichment activities, it may be hard to choose just one. Start with a program that interests your child and you might just see them advance their social skills, improve their health and even become better student.