After-School Clubs: Good or Bad for Kids?

Now that the autumn term is well under way, and children are getting back into the swing of new lessons, meeting their teachers and forming lasting friendships, thoughts start to turn to after-school activities.

But for parents, who are just beginning to get used to the new school runs, the early morning starts and the regimes of packed lunches and washing uniforms, are after-school clubs just a step too far? Don’t children have enough on their plates with the curriculum during the average school day?

© Lizzy Stewart/Flickr

Well, according to the experts, not necessarily, but caution is to be observed. There are many good reasons for your children to take part in extra curricular activities. Children can learn in a more relaxed atmosphere than they would during normal school lessons. The informal club setting of an after-school lesson can also give pupils an added confidence, and allow them to express themselves more. Research has also shown that pupils who take part in after-school activities perform better in exams, than those who don’t.

So where should you start if you are considering suggesting an after-school club for your child?

First of all, remember that any child will learn more when it is a subject that they are passionate about. So why not let them suggest an activity, or offer a subject you know they love taking part in. Another route to take is if your child needs a little extra help in a particular area, for instance if their reading is below par, why not suggest a drama club, where reading is an essential part, but could add an interest through the passion of the acting? Try being a little creative when you are suggesting a new topic.

Now that you have identified a few areas where you feel you child could benefit from some after-school activities, remember not to overwhelm them, as when they get older especially, homework will start to take over. Another important factor is family time and the running around and how you will be able to make the time commitment to actually get your child to and from these engagements. It is important not to make promises that you can’t keep in the future.

Finally, consider the costs, this is especially important if you have more than one child. It is not just the added expense of driving your children to and from the venue, some after-school clubs require training kits (if it is a sporting activity), others need musical instruments, and don’t forget the joining fees in the first place.

A good way to minimize costs is to ask older family members, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles to pay for lessons, or kits. Or check out your local council to see if they are offering cheaper alternatives to after-school clubs. Or you could always band up with other like-minded parents and form your own clubs, at a fraction of the cost.

Featured Image courtesy: Nursery Schools Lanarkshire/Flickr

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