From eating a nutritious breakfast in the morning, to listening to Mozart on the way home, people are full of ideas for making students succeed in school. But an increasing number of studies show that an educational cure for problems as varied as crime, poor school performance, and social woes may be as simple as a good afterschool program.
These programs traditionally served to keep kids occupied until their parents got out of work, but new research says it provides a boost for many kids. According to a new study of 35 afterschool programs serving low-income elementary and middle school students, children that regularly attended a program were academically far ahead of their peers. Not only did test scores increase, but their work habits, social skills, and behavior also improved with increased afterschool activities.
“These findings underscore the importance of high quality afterschool programs and activities for both elementary and middle school youth,” says Deborah Lowe Vandell, PhD., Chair of the Department of Education at University of California at Irvine and the study’s lead author. “In contrast, unsupervised time spent either hanging out with peers or even at home alone watching television is problematic for young people.