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After School Activities
Choosing The Right After School Programs
Kids work hard these days to stay up to date with all of the information that is coming at them from teachers.
Most children are tested regularly against standardized tests to determine where the child places in comparison to other children around the nation. So it is natural that when school is over many parents want to take advantage of that free time by allowing the child to do things that are fun and help them develop mentally and socially.
After school activities have long been a part of life. As adults looking back, we can easily remember the fun times we had after school with our friends. But activities can still be fun and educational. The key is finding the right activity for your child.
In this lens we will address some of the more common questions regarding this topic. It may help you decide what program is best for your child.
What are some of these activities for my child?
The very definition of an after school activity is an activity that happens after school is released.
But after school activities differ in how they are run, what they accomplish and what your child gains from them. There is any number of activities to be found in most communities.
It may be an after school program such as Boys and Girls Club where kids can go to hang out, have fun and do their homework before their parent comes to pick them up.
It may be an athletic program such as basketball, softball, golf or even football. It could also be an academic program designed to either help those that are falling behind in school or to help academically gifted children excel.
There really is no limit on what the activity can be.
What are some activities I can enroll my child in?
Before you begin to look at after school activities you first need to assess your child.
Most activity programs have a minimum and maximum age. If your child is in preschool, he or she may not be eligible to participate in some activities. Also you need to look at the capability of your child.
If he or she has a physical disability or health condition it may exclude them from a sport. A great way to find the right after school activity for your child is to sit down and talk with him or her. If the child is interested in learning gymnastics then you may want to consider a program that is devoted to that sport.
If the child needs help with school work you may want to find an academic program geared towards helping children learn the material they need to do well in school.
If you are religious then you may want to consider a church based after school program where you child can learn more about your faith.
Will This Cost Me Money?
Most after school activities do cost money.
Usually the money is a sign up fee or a participation fee for that particular activity. There are some that do not.
You, as the parent, may be asked to volunteer at certain times to help ensure that there is adequate adult supervision. You may even be asked to supply snacks or games for the children.
If there is a particular program you are interested in for your child but cannot afford the fees, you may see if there is a tuition assistance program or a way you can make payments.
Now, understand this, there are some that will not be able to do this. In that case you may ask a family member to help pay for the fee if your child is very interested in participating.
If you know that money is tight all the way around, you can still find some activities that are free or charge very little.
Resources to help you choose the right school activies for your child
How can I find money to fund my childs school activities program?
The best source of money for your after school program is going to be through grants from the federal or state government.
There are plenty of them out there but there is a catch. In order to receive a grant you have to a) show a need for the program, b) show that there are no similar programs in the area and c) know how to write a grant proposal.
If you have the first two steps covered but do not know how to write a grant proposal you may want to consider hiring a professional. The more polished your proposal the more likely it is you will receive grants and funding.
You can also turn to membership fees and community help for more money.
How can I be sure that the activities that I put my child in are age appropriate?
Most after school activities will have a set age limit that they must adhere to in order to stay within their guidelines.
Some activities are geared more towards older children such as sports and academic activities.
Other activities may allow younger children to participate. No matter what age your child is, you should make sure the ratio for adults to children is right. One adult can supervise several teens or pre-teens but can only supervise a few small children.
Before you sign up for any activity you need to talk to the people organizing or running the activity.
They should be able to answer any and all of your questions. If they act impatient with you then chances are they are going to be equally impatient or more so with your child.
If the area where the children are playing or learning in is dirty or unorganized you may want to consider a different organization or activity.
Are the school activities my child is enrolled in educational.
What are some good programs to look into?
The best after school activities your child can be a part in that are educational are likely to be tutoring programs.
And tutoring programs can work in three ways. The first way is if the child is struggling with a particular subject in school. By putting him or her in an academic tutoring program for that subject, he or she can get the extra attention and help they need to learn.
The second way a tutoring program can work is for gifted children. Often a gifted child becomes bored with the homework and studies that their current grade provides. By enrolling them in an advanced tutoring course they have the opportunity to learn new things.
A third way a tutoring program can work is by putting your child to work helping others. If you have a teen that has excelled at mathematics, he or she may be able to help other classmates or even younger students learn. This can give your child a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Are these school based activities monitored?
Unless it is a group of friends just hanging out on their own, all school based after school activities have to be monitored.
Schools have far more stringent guidelines and rules when it comes to activities. There must be the proper adult to child ratio and safety has to be a number one concern.
But often some activities may seem to be school based when in reality they are independent activities. Boys and Girls Club of America is one such organization. Though many kids go there after school, it really is not run by any school.
It is a separate organization usually funded through grants and through community projects. It is important to find out who is in charge of a particular program before you enroll your child. Some activities have an open door policy which means the child can come and go as he or she wants.
This can lead to safety issues. That is why it is so vital that you, as the parent, fully read all of the rules and regulations that an organization posts or hands out.
If my children do not like their current after school activities, how can I find one that they will like?
The very first thing you need to do if your children do not like their current after school activities is to talk to them.
Ask them why they do not like the activity. You may be surprised to find out that it is often the other kids that are the reason. It could also be that the activity is boring to them or there is something else they would like to do.
Kids tend to follow what their friends are doing so if your child has friends that are into a sports program, he or she may want to do the same. If your child is currently in an academic after school program to improve his or her grades, you may need to reinforce the idea that they need this program in order to help them with their schoolwork.
The child may not like it but you are the parent and you need to be the one to decide.
Where can I find local school activities program?
The best place to find after school activities is to check your city's webpage or visit your child's school.
Often there will be programs posted at the school for children and parents to check out. Another place to find information is any educational website.
Sylvan is a great program for academic studies and there may be a learning center near you.
How can I help start a activity program in my community?
Starting an after school activity program is a wonderful benefit to the community but it is not always easy.
The first thing you need to remember is to treat it as a business. You need a business plan and funding. You may also need certain licenses from the city, county or state.
You may also need adults or older teenagers to help you look after the children. One of the first steps is determining what you want your program to be based on.
Will it be sports?
Will it be academics?
Or will it simply be a program where children can go and hang out before their parents get off of work?
Your next step is funding. You will need money to buy supplies and even to rent or buy a space to house the program. You will also need money if you have to pay employees.
Many older teens will volunteer at many programs because it looks good on their college transcript application.