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Research,  June 04, 2004

The Right Kind of After-School Programs Can Pay Off For Kids

"'What happens after school?' asks Susan Black. Researchers studying after-school time -- also referred to as out-of-school time -- have some answers. Richard Halpern, with Chicago's Erickson Institute for Graduate Study in Child Development, says the best programs give kids opportunities to explore and learn, as well as time to 'dawdle and daydream.'

After-school programs sponsored by schools and community agencies are well-intentioned, he says, but many simply extend the school day with homework and study sessions. Such programs might satisfy parents and teachers, he admits, but they fail to satisfy kids -- especially those who need time to 'just be kids.' In fact, Halpern says, many after-school programs are designed with one objective in mind -- raising student achievement. But he questions the wisdom of forcing this 'utilitarian mission' on youngsters. He contends that, after a school day filled with formal learning, kids deserve the chance to learn informally -- especially through exploratory play of their own choosing. Other researchers agree. A two-year study by the National Research Council concludes that after-school programs should support and complement classroom learning by emphasizing social, emotional, and physical development. To do so, NRC researchers say, the programs should provide safe places for kids to interact with friends; give kids trusting, supportive relationships that make them feel accepted and included; allow them to assume responsibility by making choices and pursuing challenges; and engage them in activities that develop their personalities and interests as well as their intellect."

Referred by: PEN
Posted by tstreit on June 04, 2004 | Research