Sign me up: Afterschool programs

Today, there’s an array of afterschool activities available for almost anything your child can imagine. These programs have gone beyond the scope of keeping a child busy. And there are four key points to keep in mind when it comes to afterschool programs. 

Keep Kids Safe

You might not think that a sports team can keep your child safe, yet, it can do just that. According to past national data from Westat, Inc., students who do not spend time in afterschool activities are 49 percent more likely to have used drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents. The data compares non-active students to students who spend one to four hours weekly in afterschool activities.

The reason: These post-school programs keep kids busy and supervised between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. This is the timeframe when kids are most likely to commit crimes, be victims or indulge in sexual promiscuity. 

Encourage Abilities

Extracurricular programs encourage exploration of a child’s talents and abilities. Children have the opportunity to experience something different.  They can learn how to play a sport, take voice lessons or partake in a new hobby like cartoon drawing. You never know where a program might take your child. Plum Borough native and Indianapolis Colts’ kicker Pat McAfee participated in a youth soccer club as a child. 

Keep It Fun

Although it’s beneficial for your child to be involved, we, as parents need to protect our kids from overscheduling them. We want them to learn, have fun, and expose them to other cultures. However, we want to ensure our children still have time to be a kid, to have free time for unstructured play. 


Some kids are occupied seven days a week with sports, scouts, instrumental lessons and church youth group. Dr. Rosenfeld, author of The Over-Scheduled Child feels enrolling our children in too many activities, creating overscheduled kids, is a nationwide problem and how we parent today. Though we want the best for our kids, too many activities becomes stressful instead of fun. If they don’t have a free night, it might be time to relook at their schedules.

Consider what would be a good number of activities for your child and stick to that.

Reevaluate Current Choices        

For kids enrolled in numerous programs, it might be time to reevaluate. Consider if the program is still working for your child? Or is this one that might need discontinued–at least for a season. Then, together, with your child, evaluate different opportunities. Let him decide to keep the old program or start a new one. Exposing your child to fresh ideas is definitely a very good thing. You never know if you have the next crime scene investigator, American Idol or pro player unless he has a chance to see what it’s all about.