The comment from a young mom, Amy, about middle school football tryouts prompted a lengthy conversation with her neighbor. “No, my son isn’t trying out. He prefers to watch TV, play video games, or sleep every day after school.” Amy’s neighbor, the grandmotherly type, didn’t agree. She insisted the student should engage in sports tryouts. Amy wasn’t persuaded. She failed to recognize the benefits of after school activities.
Studies indicate that kids involved in after school programs have higher achievement and attendance rates, are less prone to depression and burnout, and experience dropout less often. Activities keep children safe and protect them from risky and negative behavior. They’re the perfect solution to supervised fun and time away from technology while parents are at work.
After school activities require parental coordination and resources to be successful. However, the benefits outweigh the costs. Here are a few examples of what kids can gain:
Opportunity to explore new interests
After school programs provide options kids don’t have inside a school building. Whether a child is interested in chess, bowling, piano, or cheerleading, there’s an after school program to accommodate. Kids gain confidence as they learn new skills and interact with others from varying backgrounds, which carries over into academia.
Lack of exercise is a contributing factor to childhood obesity that continues to climb at alarming rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years. We can help stop this cycle through after school programs.
When our kids develop a routine that includes exercise, it benefits them into adulthood. After school programs offer a fun and entertaining environment for all kinds of
Improved social skills
Children left alone after school often spend too much time on technology and have fewer face-to-face relationships. Interaction with caring adults and older teens who volunteer at after school camps offers time to mingle with others, improving social skills in the process. Leisurely time in a casual environment opens the door for adults to influence good choices and positive behavior in a non-threatening environment. It teaches healthy relational skills as kids watch adults model them.
Better Achievement with Challenging Subjects
When a child struggles in Math, a foreign language, or another difficult subject matter, after school tutoring provides the answer for success. Our daughter’s grades in an upper-level Math class plummeted in high school. We began tutoring with an instructor twice a week. The after school sessions provided encouragement and better understanding of the subject and gave our daughter confidence for the weekly tests that had intimidated her. We located her tutor through a recommendation of another student, but tutors can also be found through the school, the local newspaper, or even social media.
Time management techniques
Learning to prioritize activities and manage time accordingly is a great skill for every child to obtain. When kids participate in after school programs, they’re forced to learn how to manage their activities and allow adequate time for homework. Balancing extracurricular demands with everyday school requirements teaches discipline and self-restraint and carries long-term benefits.
Camaraderie and Leadership Skills
After school programs help kids feel they belong, which improves self-confidence and self-esteem. When we relocated to a new state, our elementary-aged son found friends with similar sports interests that helped him adjust to a new town and enjoy camaraderie with others. As kids move through junior high and high school, they gain leadership skills through after school groups such as student council, the school yearbook staff, future business leaders, or speech and debate tournaments to name a few.
If given the opportunity to help choose after school programs, kids are more vested in the activities. Experiment with a variety of options to find a good fit and continue to seek out new opportunities as your child matures. The coordination of after school programs requires intentional effort, but the benefits provide far-reaching advantages.
Local After-School Activities
Arts Umbrella Dance teaches self-expression through ballet fundamentals. From our general programming to professional training programs, to summer intensives, our rigorous and supportive approach nurtures dancers 2–22 to achieve their full potential. At the professional level, our graduates go on to perform with some of the world’s most prestigious companies.
The ACT Arts Centre
Available classes: Bouncers (1–18 months), Wigglers (16–42 months), Explorers (3–5 years), Guitar Basics (8–14 years), Guitar Basics (15 years+)
Long & McQuade Music
Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Kamloops, Langley, North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Prince George, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, White Rock, and 3 locations on Vancouver Island.
Private and group music instruction at affordable rates, custom-tailored to the needs of individual students in a wide variety of instruments, including acoustic & electric guitar, piano, drums, vocals, orchestral strings, brass, and woodwinds.
Tom Lee Music Academy
Lower Mainland, 604/688-8929
At Tom Lee Music Academy, you can enjoy excellent music education in a fun community atmosphere. Students of all ages come together for a positive music making experience at our 4 key and satellite locations in the Lower Mainland, plus 2 on Vancouver Island. To register, please call 604/688-8929.
Performing & Visual arts
The ACT Arts Centre
Available classes: Parent & Tot Storybook Theatre (2–4 years), Act Out (4–6 years), Acting 101 (9–14 years), Musical Theatre (7–13 years), Play Building (10–15 years), Theatre Works (12–17 years).
Arts Umbrella – Theatre and Music
Vancouver / Surrey
Costumes, improv, script work, character studies, theatrical performances, and local tours! Arts Umbrella’s Theatre & Music programs nurture young performers’ creativity. Actors in our general program, intensives, troupes, and camps experience a wide range of performance styles, from Shakespeare to film acting. Be curious, be bold, be yourself.
Arts Umbrella – Visual, Media, and Applied Arts,
In our Visual, Media, and Applied Arts classes, young artists learn to develop ideas and reflect the world around them. Their art takes many forms—sculptures, animations, paintings, models, movies, photos, designs, and more. From general programming, to advanced classes, scholarships, portfolio-building, and exhibition opportunities, there are endless ways to express your creativity.
The ACT Arts Centre
Available classes: Introduction to Computing (Ages 15 years and up), Marvelous Micro-Bit (8–12 years).
Arts Umbrella – Media Arts
Ages 6–19 years
Our Media Arts classes give young artists 6–19 a way to connect and investigate fundamental visual concepts—but use new media to drive their creations. Kids can share their stories through animation, filmmaking, cartoons, graphic novel characters, video art, and more.
Bricks 4 Kidz
Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby,
Bricks 4 Kidz® provides STEM programs that inspire kids to learn about architecture, engineering and design concepts while having fun building with LEGO® bricks. Now offering Birthday Parties, Camps and After School Enrichment Classes.
Math Potentials Early Math
Early Math Matters is a fun, creative, and goal-oriented course designed to boost a child’s mental potential in the very early ages. Math helps preschoolers make sense of the world around them and also teaches them important problem-solving strategies.
Math Potentials Math Circles
Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, South Surrey
Ages 10-13, 14-18
In Math Circles, students develop a “mathematical way of thinking”, where they learn how to approach and reason through a problem enabling them to experience mathematics as valuable, exciting, and meaningful.
Math Potentials Science Circles
This course introduces students to scientific ways of thinking and inspires them to keep asking questions about the world around them. The course will use a hands-on and minds-on approach to engage students in the study of mechanics.
Playcademy–Tabletop Game Labs (Screen-Free)
Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby & Tri-Cities
More than just fun and games! At Playcademy, kids develop skills like critical thinking, writing, and discussion while playing award-winning tabletop board games. Your kids will have fun participating in post-game activities that encourage them to think critically, do active problem-solving, and collaborate with other kids! After-school program with small class sizes that promote belonging and exploration. Register for fall & spring!
TumbleTown Movement Education Centre
Ages 4 months–8 years
TumbleTown Movement Education Centre offers specialized movement
programs for children from 4 months to 8 years old. Our programs introduce children to fun and challenging activities through movement circuits, games, and music. Our programs are designed to provide children with the fundamental skills necessary to keep them active for life! We offer a variety of programs for your needs: weekly classes, family drop-ins, birthday parties and school closure gym-venture days. Sign up today!
Uphoria Yoga is a family yoga studio located in the heart of Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, offering classes for all age groups including kids yoga, adult yoga and mat workouts, family yoga, pre & postnatal yoga, and childminding options too!
Bio: Gayla Grace writes, speaks, and coaches on parenting and stepfamily issues. As a mom to five, she loves to find after school activities her children enjoy.