After-school Programs Promote Children's Development
In 1999, the National Research Council Board for Children, Youth, and Families and the Forum on Adolescence held a workshop for policy makers, researchers, and practitioners to examine research on (a) the developmental needs of children aged 5 to 14 and (b) the types of after-school programs that they need. The workshop participants discussed ways that after-school programs can be designed to provide school-age children with oppportunities:
- To develop competence in a number of developmental domains
- To develop cross-cultural skills
- To learn from older youth and to mentor younger children
- To interact successfully with peers
- To establish close bonds with caring adults
- To contribute to their communities
The experts agreed that school-age children need a variety of skills to move successfully from middle childhood to adolescence. They also recognized that after-school programs may help children explore different areas of interest in which they can exercise their talents and achieve competence. Finally, they concluded that successful experiences in a wide range of out-of-school programs can give school-agers a positive sense of themselves and a healthy appreciation of others (Gootman, 2000).
In the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in the level of state and federal funding for after-school programs. For example, the U.S. Department of Education funds the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program. The focus of this school-based program, authorized under Title X, Part I, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is to provide learning oppportunitites for school-age children in supervised, drug-free environments in public school buildings. Other sources of funding for after-school programs have also been increasing, including the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative (Gootman, 2000).
The National Research Council established the following recommendations to guide new after-school programming:
- Programs need to be designed to address age-related stages of development.
- Programs need to incorporate the kinds of activities that will build physical, cognitive, emotional and social competencies.
- Programs need to incorporate academic experiences that will encourage a positive attitude toward learning.
- Programs need to address the challenges faced by school-age children in their daily lives.
© ______ 2007, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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