After School Activities or Education?

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Teacher’s Diary

In our African society today, children are literally up to their necks with the learning activities in schools and lessons. It may be wiser to enrol children for after-school extra-curricular activities. After school programs are not very popular in developing countries.
Nonetheless, there is a real need for extra-curricular activities.

The unavailability of parental supervision is the leading reason for the popularity of after-school programs in developed nations.

It is seen that many children could spend about 20-25 hours a week if they are unsupervised and alone at home. As the saying goes, ‘an idle mind is a devil’s workshop’. Children who are left alone with too much free time invariably fall into the wrong company. Drug abuse, alcohol, tobacco and crime come knocking at their parents door sooner rather than later. Therefore, parents enrol children in various after-school programs to keep them occupied in a productive manner. This way, the kids are free to enjoy themselves in a supervised activity.

Crime is considered to be at its peak during the after-school hours, particularly between 3 to 4 p.m. During such a time, children need protection. Getting the children together under one roof and encouraging them to participate in a group activity is protection enough. It diverts the children from ennui too. Obesity is a matter of growing concern in many developed countries. It is reported that more children’s Body Mass Index (BMI) are sky rocketing. After school, many children relax on the sofa with packets of chips, cool drinks or chocolates while they watch television. Thirty per cent of the kids below the age of 19 are considered overweight, and about 15 per cent of these are obese. An after-school program ensures that children take well-balanced meals; that children shakes off their lethargy and keep themselves busy. These clubs helps to reduce the child’s fascination for TV and computer games.

Furthermore, after-school activities promote social awareness and develop the individual’s sense of social responsibility. It is seen that these sorts of programs not only keep children out of trouble, but also help to produce responsible citizens. In this way, after-school clubs are valuable building blocks in a child’s personality. Times are changing and parents want their children to excel in academics as well as in other activities. Good after-school clubs would ensure this. Parents today should enrol their children in various programs and enable the development of the various facets of their individuality. Children who attend after-school clubs seem comfortable learning many things. At the same time, they gain tremendous satisfaction from being with other children. After-school is not baby-sitting:

After-school activities thrive only if it is backed by sufficient parental involvement. What would a soccer match be without parents cheering their little heroes from the sidelines?

Research and choose:

Instead of convenience being the decisive factor, find out things that will interest your child. Once you select a program, get the fine print and find out what you have to contribute.

Free time:

Many children attend piano classes, followed by ballet and squeeze in some time for play dates in between just before they rush home in time for bed. This rigor is too much for a child. So, go slow.

When to quit:

Often, parents enroll their child in an activity to discover that he may not be the prodigy they thought he would be. This is the time to let go. Your child may not become the next wonder-kid, but, let him cultivate an interest that he enjoys. Remember, happiness and fulfillment are all that matter.

For millions of parents around the world, the day does not end with the school bell. There are still pictures to be painted, songs to be sung and games to be played. This all adds up to keeping children happy, safe and out of trouble. But, parents have to steer away from going overboard.

Omoru is a freelance writer, education, health and social care advocate