5 Benefits of Afterschool Programs

Carl Turnley

Education is obviously one of the most crucial parts of growth for a child. The classes taken teaching them skills that can be applied to the modern world prepare them life outside of school. However, their education should not be limited to within these buildings’ walls.

Afterschool programs are extremely beneficial in terms of continued growth for your child, and should be strongly considered depending on his or her interests. From karate classes, to instrumental lessons, to painting, children have a wide range of opportunities to choose from, all of which can enhance their development. With that said, here are five of the greatest benefits that come with enrolling children in afterschool programs.

Improves Academic Performance

Many afterschool programs allow for children to do their homework when present, and even offer help if needed. Working in a much more casual environment may inspire them to ask more questions, and generally show more interest in the work that they’re doing. Some programs even focus specifically on certain subjects, like math, science, and computers. This can directly lead to more enthusiasm when learning about these subjects in school.

Increases Confidence

As mentioned before, the casual environment of afterschool programs can give children a sense of ease. There may be feelings of pressure in school and certain classes that students feel, inhibiting them from contributing as much as they’d like to. When taking part in an activity that they genuinely enjoy after school however, chances are they will be much more likely to try new things and challenge themselves. This can improve self-esteem quite substantially, which is profound for those with learning or attention issues.

Similarly, an increased sense of confidence can translate to leadership skills. Once these are developed, a child may be bore inclined to take initiative and join a student board, school clubs, or assist teachers during or after class. A trait like this is one that is extremely vital in the working world.

Enhances Social Skills

Groups of children taking part in activities that they enjoy together are much more likely to interact with one another; something that isn’t seen quite as often in the classroom. Afterschool programs promote interaction among their participants, and are great platforms for children to build their social skills upon. Experienced staff members are present to correct and teach a child should they act out, which can again sharpen their interactive abilities.

Provides Physical Activity

Programs like the YMCA offer several physical activities for children to play, like swimming, soccer, flag football, and much more. Not only does this keep them active and healthy, but it promotes a healthy lifestyle in general. Additionally, these programs may teach children the importance of nutrition, and provide healthy snacks.

Keeps Kids Occupied

Many parents today may work longer hours that directly compete with their child’s school schedule. While some jobs today are more accommodating, it can be difficult to leave early every day to ensure you are home when your child is. Afterschool programs can effectively act as modes of childcare in addition to their educational benefits. Though they should never be seen as merely babysitting platforms, these programs can keep children in a safe environment while their parents are still at their places of work.

In fact, studies have shown that teens whose parents’ work schedules may conflict with theirs are more likely to engage in risky behavior; something afterschool programs can help with by keeping them occupied and off the streets.

Teaching Your Fearful Dog Calmness


Every dog, no matter their background or disposition, deserves a second chance. Many of the dogs that are rescued from shelters have gone through unspeakable abuse through no fault of their own. When you have a fearful dog, it’s often through no fault of their own. If you have a fearful dog, it’s up to you to teach them calmness. Luckily, it’s not too difficult. I recently read some tips from none other than the legendary “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan. Here is what he had to say:

When your child is afraid, it’s only natural to want to comfort them and tell them that everything will be okay. Your dog might feel like your child, but comforting them like that is actually the worst thing you can do. Dogs relate your behavior to whatever it’s doing in that moment. That’s how positive reinforcement works; if you want to teach your dog to “shake,” associate that behavior with a reward. To dogs, one of the best rewards is affection. So when you comfort a fearful dog, you’re rewarding it for acting scared.

Over time, rewarding a dog for its fearful behavior, even if it’s unintentional, can make an already timid dog even more skittish and fearful. It’s difficult not giving your dog unconditional love at all times, particularly when they’re clearly afraid. But, in that instance, they don’t need to be comforted, they need to see leadership. Dogs learn by imitating, so when your dog is afraid, you need to act calm and assertive, which can help make them more confident.

It’s important to remember that dogs do have the common animal instincts possessed by so many. They can be narrowed down to four: fight, flight, avoidance, and surrender. When your dog is experiencing fear, their first response will almost always be either flight or avoidance. Obviously, you’ll want to prevent the fight response as best you can, but this can occur in extreme cases. The goal is to make them surrender, which is them accepting whatever the stimulus is without reacting to it. This can be done by displaying calm, assertive energy.

Dogs are surprisingly intuitive about our feelings. Your dog can often tell when you’re sad, afraid, or excited. So, when you act afraid, your dog will pick up on that. Humans are typically the leaders of the pack, and when you’re afraid, that leadership role is empty and a dog’s natural reaction is to take over, which could lead to the dog acting aggressive out of fear. This, in turn, creates a feedback loop that exacerbates the situation. Therefore, a fearful dog needs, more than anything else, a calm and assertive leader to show them that everything is okay.

A Culture of Giving

I’ve written before about how philanthropic actions should come from within. Helping people feels great, and even if it didn’t, it’s still a wonderful way to connect with other people who may have a need you can provide.

Company’s also understand this, because some are beginning to change the attitude with which they approach philanthropy. For a time, companies would make donations because of the associated tax benefits. But in a 2014 article for Inc., Marla Tabaka examines the giving spirit at other companies, and makes the case for why it’s important to create a culture of philanthropy wherever you are.

One reason she gives, is that charitable action can bring employees together. Sometimes, we rub elbows with our coworkers and bosses in meetings. Or a new employee joins the company, but is a bit slow to catch on to the rest of the culture. Because everything in the office is centered on work, correcting these problems may not come easily. After all, who has time to repair relationships or explore new ideas when that big project is due by the end of the week?

A culture of giving can bring your employees closer together.

A culture of giving can bring your employees closer together.

Community service encourages employees to work side-by-side in an environment where deadlines and the hard and fast rules of office expectations don’t necessarily apply. You and your co-workers will bond and work together on an activity that everyone involved is passionate about.

But how do you make sure everyone is on board to begin with? Involve everyone from the jump. If you’re in a management position, don’t pick an organization or cause at random. Get critical feedback and suggestions from other employees so you can be assured that the projects you pursue and the difference you contribute to won’t feel like just another work day.

Sometimes you may feel you just don’t have the time to help create a culture of giving, but Tabaka encourages you to get creative. She provides an example from the company culture of Zinepak, a Brooklyn-based publishing company. In order to make time, they created a rotating position that is in charge of organizing activities and projects dedicated to the community outside of the workplace.

A Time for Giving

For many, the holidays present a great opportunity for community service and involvement. Probably the first thing that pops into mind is the ubiquitous “toy drive”. And while that’s a pretty worthy cause, there are plenty of other ways to contribute, too! The Huffington Post gives us plenty of suggestions for making the holidays special for a stranger. Check out a few below!

Visit a Senior

For you, the holidays may be a time when the entire family comes together for warm food and warmer laughter. But for some it’s the complete opposite. As people age, sometimes bonds that were once unthinkable begin to fade. Maybe a loved one was lost, or they’ve lost touch with their children. Humans are social creatures, and not having that kind of meaningful interaction can be devastating. Those of us not in that position can only imagine how much worse that feeling is when everyone around you is filled with a certain cheer that comes with seeing family and friends. HuffPost notes that half of seniors living in nursing homes receive no holiday visitors, so it’s not hard to see how much of an impact that kind of act of love can have.


Deliver a meal

Food is such a central part of the holiday season that some people look forward to the table than they do their family! But just because you’re enjoying a delicious spread doesn’t mean everyone else is, too. Hunger still runs rampant, so what better way to spread some cheer and goodwill by giving food to those who need it most? Meals on Wheels has a volunteer program that makes it that much easier to give.


Red Cross

Sometimes the best presents are truly priceless. Each year, the Red Cross helps needy people all over the world by delivering vaccinations or emergency family packages. There are even donations you can give to support workshops that connect veterans with their families.

Tommy Spaulding’s “It’s Not Just Who You Know”

Communication is the most important skill anyone working in the nonprofit sector can have. The funds you raise aren’t for you, they’re for a higher cause. It boils down to your team persuading potential donors to contribute to your cause. So it’s easy to see that, at the end of the day, all you have is your word.It's not just who you know

Many philanthropists, as I’ve noted before, treat everyone the same. By “same” I don’t mean “equal”. Rather, a potential donor or volunteer from one background receives the same information, attention, and communication as someone from a different background. We’re taught as children that each of us is unique, but we seem to lose sight of that as we age. You need to approach your potential game-changers as the individuals they are, not as a singular entity under one roof.

But this can be difficult. We’re conditioned to keeping work conversations in the office, and conversations of personal interest between our closest friends. Is this inherently a bad thing? No! But it is a bit jarring when someone from accounting is suddenly asked to contribute her time or money, when the only words you’ve spoken to her are about the weather and the new office space.

That’s why, I think you should read Tommy Spaulding’s best-seller It’s Not Just Who You Know. It’s simple, and doesn’t lose its message in self-aggrandizing pomp. The anecdotes are down to earth, and prove the power of a single conversation.

Spaulding writes at length about the different levels of interpersonal relationships, and the people we encounter at each one. At the lowest level are those with whom we just discuss news, sports and weather. At the top —the “Penthouse”— are our closest mentors, confidants, and loved ones, whom we serve with no expectation of reciprocity.

You can imagine which relationship is most useful to helping you achieve your goals. Spaulding helps us understand what makes penthouse relationships special, and why it’s possible to take someone we’ve recently met all the way to the top.

Of course, not everyone we meet will enter into penthouse relationship with us. Spaulding understands this, and helps the reader foster relationships at all points along the scale.

After reading it, you will be eager to listen to people and look for ways that you can selflessly help them. Whether they need help refining an idea or just want a shoulder to lean on, these relationships are what we, as humans crave. It’s Not Just Who You Know shows us how to make the most of them.

Making a Relationship with Donors

When you’re actively engaged in philanthropic activities, chances are you’re going to have to ask a donor for help. And you should! Trying to run a foundation or making a difference with exclusive use of your time, energy, and funds is a Sisyphean task. But when asking for donations, many people lead off with the same pitch: “Hi, please consider donating to or volunteering with [name of fund/organization] because it will make a positive difference in the lives of many people.” If you ask 100 people, you may get only a handful of positive responses. But how can we work to turn that into a productive, meaningful impact? two clasped hands

It’s easier said than done, to be sure, but this is the key: you’re not making the donation about them. “Wait a second,” you may be thinking, “it’s not about them! I’m trying to run this organization and get people involved to give back to others!” This is completely true, but whether they realize it or not, on every level people are thinking about how their actions benefit them. It’s not necessarily selfish, it’s just the way people are.

Now you don’t need to go out and inflate their ego. That’s bad. Saying “think about how great you’ll look volunteering tonight” looks scummy at best. Instead, approach donors that make sense. Don’t ask indiscriminately. Imagine you are in charge of organizing a fundraiser for a charity that helps to promote STEM in underperforming schools. If you have a professional contact who came from a disadvantaged background and is working towards a similar goal as you, frame your request in a way that resounds positively with that person. After all, they can likely connect with the people you are out to help. For example, you could say “I know that you worked hard to get to where you are, and want to help youths that were in your position to advance professionally. Would you like to speak to several school-aged children who want to learn more about what you do?”

This is much more thoughtful than an email blast saying “come find me if you want to make a difference this weekend!”

Remember, we’re all people, and we all want to do good. Just be upfront about why you think someone may be a good fit for the task.