Afterschool programs can provide a safe space for elementary-aged school children and help the youth avoid engaging in risky behaviors before their parents arrive home from work. Not every afterschool program is built the same, though, so it’s important for parents to know what to look for in the one they choose for their school-age kids. 

So, what makes a quality afterschool program, exactly?

What Experts Have to Say About Afterschool Programs

One policy report by Columbia University psychologists concluded that the good afterschool programs consider the youth in the program to be “resources to be developed rather than as problems to be managed.” More specifically, the American Psychological Association summarizes, it’s a program that helps the participants develop positive relationships with peers as well as adults. It focuses on the strengths of the participants and works to enforce them, rather than putting the spotlight on any potential weaknesses. 

Additionally, afterschool programs provide creative activities and challenge youth in enriching ways to encourage healthy development. Staff provide guidance as the program enhances participants’ ability to make autonomous decisions and fosters leadership skills. 

Diving Deeper Into the Details of What to Look For

When comparing options, though, what makes a quality afterschool program — specifically, how do you know what’s right for your child? breaks it down, noting that the program should provide a sense of continuity from the school experience in a positive environment that promotes the health and wellness of participants. The program should also keep children safe in a learning space. 

The right afterschool program staffing is crucial. As a parent, look for a low child-to-staff ratio and the appropriate levels of supervision. The program should be clearly structured with interactive activities that engage participants and will allow them to make smart choices among options. These can include STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities plus reading time, art, and more. Homework help should be provided along with the right technology to support it. Plus, of course, a healthy afterschool snack is also important. 

Choosing the right afterschool program comes with plenty of benefits for your child and your family. notes how quality ones can “support social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health, and provide a safe and supportive environment for children and youth.” Furthermore, they can boost the participants’ performances at school and even their future earning potential while encouraging a child’s ability to self-motivate and concentrate.

Fall Afterschool Program Enrollment

If you’re looking for an afterschool program for your child, know that the ones offered at Horizon Education Centers check all these boxes! Our school-age programs are available both before and after school while parents work or are at school. Activities align with Ohio State Board of Education’s academic standards and transportation is available from school to Horizon. 

Please fill out the form on this page to get more information about our afterschool programs or to request enrollment. Plus, we’re happy to discuss what makes a quality afterschool program and how you’ll find these components at Horizon Education Centers. 

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