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Extracurricular activities heighten children’s awareness of the world around them.  Not only do they provide valuable life skills and learning experiences, the best afterschool programs produce leaders.  Activities available in afterschool programs make time outside of the classroom fun, educational, and rewarding.

High quality afterschool programs are known for putting their students first and typically have key elements in common.

Four signs of a great afterschool program are:

  1. Like school, they are curriculum-based.  Afterschool programs offer a myriad of activities for children to choose from.  Each activity has an objective.  For example, some are fitness-based with a focus on health and wellness. Activities like yoga and tennis keep kids physically active by adding regular exercise to their day.  Other activities are learning-based and help students acquire new skills in areas like math, science, technology, and finance. These programs not only benefit student but they also prepare them for adulthood.
  2. Children get the support needed to succeed. The student to teacher ratio is important in high quality afterschool programs. Instructors learn what makes their students excited about the activities they select to participate in.  Teachers adapt to student learning styles quickly when they have smaller groups of students to work with.
  3. Scholarships cover costs for students in need of financial assistance.  Great afterschool programs do not exclude students because of income level.  Scholarships defray costs and enable children from all economic statuses to attend and enjoy afterschool activities.  A child won’t miss out on enrichment opportunities because of financial difficulties with a high quality afterschool program.
  4. They encourage communication with parents.  Mothers and fathers are children’s first teachers.  Great afterschool programs recognize the role of parents in the growth and development of kids.  Program staff work with moms and dads to meet goals and provide additional learning opportunities to children.  Rather than treat parents like outsiders, the best afterschool programs treat them as mentors.

Choosing the right afterschool program for your child takes time.  By identifying the components of quality programming, you make the selection process easier for everyone involved.  Your child benefits from the experience, and you get to see your son or daughter thrive in a nurturing and stimulating environment.

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