The demonstrable benefits of after school activities for children are unarguable. They are many, varied and cover a spectrum of benefits from the physical to the psychological and social. And there is ever increasing scientific research and data showing that encouraging children to engage in activities after school aids their development.
Around the world experts in child advancement are agreed that regular participation in extracurricular activities is the most effective way to help children develop their individual personality, decrease any emotional stress, and enhance social and academic skills. All of which will be a huge benefit to them on an ongoing basis and into the future.
Child psychologists are also seemingly unanimous in agreeing that after school activities are generally more effective and beneficial than confidence-building classes.
Superpowering Academic Performance
The benefits go far beyond the hugely valuable attributes of increasing physical fitness and burning off energy. It is increasingly proven that study habits, subject grades and general interaction in and with the school all improve when children attend regular after school clubs and take part in team sports. They can help build confidence, passion for something they enjoy and are good at, and an increased ‘sense of place’ within the school.
Children who frequently participate in after school activities are more likely to show greater levels of attention in class, be more engaged in school, and are less likely to develop an inclination for antisocial and or problem behavior.
In the book Spark; The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, author Dr. John Ratey, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, states that exercise improves learning on three crucial levels. "First, it optimizes your mindset to improve alertness, attention and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus."
In short, not only does exercise help the brain get ready to learn but it actually makes retaining information easier.
Not Just Athletic Skills,
Life & Social Skills Too!
We have seen time and time again how after school activities provide an ideal environment for children to nurture social skills and build confidence. They are able to work together as a team, to support and encourage and work towards mutual goals - skills that play out in the wider world and will benefit them in their future occupations.
Whilst team work is unquestionably nurtured and enhanced in our after school clubs, they also strengthen confidence to be independent. The more they explore their abilities, the more children build an awareness of their own character, and this can translate into such things as leadership skills. By working with others outside of a classroom setting, children learn versatility, positive values, purposeful interaction and emotional growth.
It is crucial that after school activities provide a safe, fun and positive environment, where children can thrive. This is not about killing time whilst parents finish work, it is all about providing a major addition to the school day and one that has a very real impact on the all round health and wellbeing of a child.
Healthy Hobbies For A Lifetime
It stands to reason that a child engaged in healthy active hobbies and enjoying after school clubs, is a child who, during that time, is not sitting in front of a TV or computer screen or staring at a smartphone. And that will become an increasingly important fact as these tech items increasingly dominate the lives of younger generations.
It is also no secret that obesity and weight related conditions such as diabetes are also worryingly prevalent in younger age groups and the facts and figures are getting worse. Yet these problems are relatively easily addressed and physical activity is a key answer to the problem.
According to The World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular conditions at a younger age.’
WHO adds that, ‘Overweight and obesity and their related diseases, are largely preventable. Prevention of childhood obesity therefore needs high priority’.
After school activities of the sort we run are very mindful of this. Promoting a healthier lifestyle, making it fun and accessible is crucial for keeping children fit and healthy in the present, but also setting in motion good habits that they can carry with them for a lifetime. And the benefits of this are immeasurable.
What children are doing in school at a very young age are already shaping what kind of person they will be in the future and the type of future they might have.
After school clubs, within their fun and dynamism, can forge lifelong character traits such as discipline, time management, thoughtfulness, resilience, determination, fair-mindedness and support for others.