What marks a successful after school program?


What marks a successful after school program? What are the things that you
should look for when enrolling your child into one such program? Other
than the obvious advantage of learning something new, successful programs
incorporate many things that help the development of the child.

Development of social skills is one of the more important objectives of a
good after school program. In a recent survey, parents indicated that
while they do want their children to respect others, they also wanted them
to imbibe skills like getting along with other children and getting used
to children outside the immediate circle of friends. Many children find it
difficult to make new friends and get along with people outside their

Good after school programs place special emphasis on security and safety.
They keep children out of trouble and keep them safe. A good after school
program should be fun, especially when the children are young. If the
activity is fun, you will not have to worry about keeping him interested
or motivated. To be effective, programs should be organized and
structured. They must also suit the age of the child. The child must be
aware of the purpose of the program, and must be convinced that they are
attending the programs to accomplish something.

How much is too much?


Should your child go for the football practice 5 days a week? Are 3 days

enough? It is common for parents to be a little confused when it comes to
deciding how much is too much with reference to after school activities.
They argue that since most of the activities are fun (as different from
studies), children will simply lap up these classes. But, too much of fun
can also make a child sick. Here is a simple guide that will help you
decide how much is too much for your child.

Your child is just beginning to learn to interact and get used to
discipline. His or her after-school life should be simple and carefree.
One or two classes per week are enough at the beginning. Once the child
settles down, look for more challenging activities like a music program.

Grade 1:
One or two activities per week, play dates and playground visits are
recommended. Avoid competitive sports activities. The child is still too
young to have to worry about winning and losing. After the rigors of a
full day at school, he or she needs a healthy outlet for pent up energy.
Physical activities and noncompetitive sports are best for this age.

Grade 2:
Your child is old enough to voice opinions on what activities he or she
wants. Sports, skating, swimming or computers – steer him towards things
he likes. Many children begin lessons on a musical instrument around this
age. But, allow your child some ‘alone time’ during which he can unwind
and just do whatever he wishes.

Grade 3:
Socialization begins to take center stage. Team sports are a good choice.
Developing motor skills, painting, drawing etc are good too. Let the child
explore areas of interests. But leave aside enough time for the family and
for fun activities.

Grade 4:
At this age, the child will tell you what he likes. He needs to get
involved in activities that will boost his confidence. This will also help
him manage stress as this is the time when social pressure is beginning to
build. But, beware of the homework demon. Your child needs more time with
his studies. Balancing his schoolwork with other activities is very

Grade 5:
The fifth grader is bubbling with energy and will want to do just
about everything. But she or he may conveniently push studies to the
background. So, close supervision is needed. Keep one or two days free for
family time and other activities. Now is a great time to get your child
interested in community service.

Middle school:
Steer him away from TV. Get him engaged in activities that reinforce
learning. Academic performance can be improved by encouraging your preteen
to join clubs like the Girl/Boy Scouts program, language clubs, chess
clubs etc. As a thumb rule, 16-20 hours a week of extra activity should be
more than enough. But look out for signs of burnout.

What you select for your child and how long he should work at it is
basically decided by the child’s temperament. As a parent, you should
closely observe your child and base your decisions on feedback from the
child himself


Are you Over Scheduling your Kids?


Several studies are expressing a growing concern that after school
programs are pressurizing kids to do too much too soon. They point out
that when a child’s afternoon is filled with classes, trips, sports and
other forms of organized activities, kids do not really get the time to be
just kids. They are even being deprived of the cherished family time.

Undoubtedly, there are children who are being burdened with a schedule
that places too much demand on their time. This leads to increased levels
of stress on the child and the family. As regular studies cannot be
ignored, children are almost always on the run to achieve more. Such
children are really bearing a burden that is too heavy for their frail
little shoulders.

In an ideal world, all children would go home directly after school to
loving and caring parents who are waiting for the children to come home.
But the social and economic realities show that many children have to
attend after school courses because there is no one available at home. For
such children, these classes are a boon.

Parents should however restrain themselves from reading too much into
these activities. After school programs are complimentary in nature. They
give additional support. Therefore, their importance should also be

Art Based #AfterSchool Programs


With the growing interest in after school programs shown by the Government
as well as parents, new and hitherto unheard of programs are being
explored. In an attempt to make a child aware of his responsibilities as
an individual and as a citizen, these after school programs make use of a
child’s natural curiosity and his irrepressible energy.

A recent report by several independent researchers concludes that
participating in the arts nurtures the development of social, personal and
cognitive skills.

Programs based on Arts can improve academic achievement
and decrease the tendency towards delinquency. It helps youth form
positive attitudes about themselves and build self-esteem.

Arts programs involve communication, interpretation and understanding of
complex symbols, much like mathematics and languages. Thus it fosters
higher-order analytical skills and skills of evaluation and synthesis.
Many of the programs make the child regularly use multiple skills thus
making him dynamic and versatile.

Development of imagination, judgment and philosophy are fringe benefits of
an arts-based activity. As opposed to the short 45-minute duration of the
art classes at school, the extra time allowed in after school activities
allows the child to get more involved. This results in more satisfactory
opportunities for development of latent capabilities in the child. In
turn, the child learns to set high standards of achievement. He
understands what sustained focus is and learns that regular practice is
the way to excellence.

In the shy or the withdrawn child, theatre, speech or drama lessons may be
an outlet for pent up emotions. As drama entails getting into the ‘skin’
of another person, the child learns to verbalize emotions and express
thoughts. These reasons account for the popularity of arts-based


The above examples go to show that after school activities are becoming
serious. They are slowly morphing into important parts of a child’s
education and moving away from the fun-and-frolic-only programs of the