The Benefit of After School Programs
Parents often enroll their child in Early Childcare at Stepping Stone School because they recognize the benefits of preparing him or her for Kindergarten through hands-on learning and academic preparation. But, what happens when that same child goes on to elementary school? Do the benefits of outside programs cease? After school care is as important as early childcare to continue to build and support a child’s development.
Research and study spanning over ten years by a team of specialists from the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) confirm that “children and youth who participate in after school programs reap a host of positive benefits in a number of interrelated outcome areas – academic, social/emotional, prevention, and health and wellness.” (Afterschool Programs Make a Difference)
After School Care Benefits your Child in Four Major Areas:
- Improved Academic Performance: The Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) emphasizes improved test scores for children who participated in high quality after school programs. Researchers Pierce and Vandell (1999) demonstrated that children in after-school programs developed better work habits in their classrooms.Using this knowledge, Stepping Stone School creates a unique curriculum providing academic experiences which extend beyond the four walls of the classroom by offering hands-on learning, scientific experiments, cooking activities, active games, and opportunities for artistic expression through a thematic bi-weekly focus.
At Stepping Stone School, we recognize that during the work week, parents and children often have a limited amount of time to spend together. Therefore, as a service to our families, in addition to excellence in care and learning, we provide a time and place set aside for children to complete homework assignments so that families can maximize their time together in the evenings
To enhance our afterschool experience, Stepping Stone School will be adding several programs as of January which will provide additional enrichment opportunities. The enrichments will include an art and a multi-sport program along with coding and programming of video games. For more information on registering your child please ask your principal.
- Improved Social Skills: Through the caring relationships established between teachers and children, participants in afterschool programs demonstrate increased self-confidence and self-esteem in addition to improved leadership skills (Pham, 2014).
To increase social skills, Stepping Stone School after school program uses character building activities and stories to teach monthly character development goals as part of our school wide Communities of Character curriculum. Each child is taught pro-social behaviors and strategies for working cooperatively with others.Additionally, since we pick up children at dozens of schools around the greater Austin area, children attending the afterschool program often attend the same elementary school. These children, then, are more likely to build stronger relationships with their peers because of shared positive learning experiences outside the elementary school setting.
- The Prevention of Risky Behaviors: Research demonstrates that children participating in afterschool programs have reduced drug use and criminal behavior. Increased safety and security allow parents to feel less concerned about their child’s afterschool care and enable parents to be more productive while at work (Benefits for Youth, Families, & Communities).Studies show that parents who are concerned about their children’s safety after school, miss an average of eight days of work per year. This decreased worker productivity costs companies up to $300 billion annually (Benefits for Youth, Families, & Communities).
- Improved Physical Fitness and Nutrition: Participation in afterschool programs has been associated with positive health outcomes, including reduced obesity (Benefits for Youth, Families, & Communities).The Stepping Stone School after school program provides children with supervision while playing on our secure playgrounds along with the choice to participate in active games promoting pro-social behaviors and unique learning experiences.
Every afternoon, caregivers discuss positive lifestyles and eating habits while providing healthy snacks often made together as a group.
In addition to our comprehensive afterschool curriculum, we also provide enrichment opportunities enabling children to participate in taekwondo classes, gymnastics, and dance classes as available per location. In this manner, children remain active and engaged throughout the afternoon.
Additional benefits to the community:
Children participating in Stepping Stone School after school care are taught what it means to care for others and how to show kindness to others through opportunities to give back to the community. During the holiday season, school age children visit the elderly in nursing homes.
Over the summer, they donate their time and talent making items to sell in their child-led businesses to raise money for other children around the Austin Community. To date, Stepping Stone School’s school age children have donated over $41,000 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas.
Stepping Stone School has been named the Best in Childcare for 19 years in a row. Our excellence extends beyond the early years as we continue to offer the best after school program to families in the Greater Austin Area.
Afterschool Alliance. (2014). America After 3 PM After School Programs in Demand. Retrieved from http://afterschoolalliance.org/documents/AA3PM-2014/AA3PM_National_Report.pdf
Afterschool Programs Make a Difference: Findings from the Harvard Family Research Project. (2008, August). Published in SEDL Letter Volume XX, Number 2. Retrieved from http://www.sedl.org/pubs/sedl-letter/v20n02/afterschool_findings.html
Benefits for Youth, Families, & Communities. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://youth.gov/youth-topics/afterschool-programs/benefits-youth-families-and-communities
Pham, A. (2014, July 31). Why Kids Benefit from After-School Programs. Retrieved from https://www.noodle.com/articles/why-kids-benefit-from-after-school-programs
Posner and Vandell. (1999). After-School Activities and the Development of Low-Income Urban Children: A Longitudinal Study. Developmental Psychology. DOI: 101037/0012-1622.214.171.1248.