It may seem that by middle school (6th or 7th grade) kids have outgrown afterschool programs, but the research is compelling as to why there’s a significant afterschool advantage for middle schoolers.
Here are five quick facts from national reports:
- Older kids themselves see the benefits: More than half of middle-grade youth report that their afterschool program gives them leadership opportunities and life skills as well as a high level of self-esteem. (The After-School Corporation (TASC), Quality, Scale and Effectiveness in After-School Programs, May 2005)
- Afterschool for middle schoolers is needed by parents: Approximately 85% of middle school parents report that they have peace of mind about where their older children are while they’re working. Eight out of 10 parents report that afterschool programs help them to keep their jobs. (Afterschool Alliance. America After 3 PM: The most in-depth study of how America’s children spend their afternoon. 2009)
- Risky behaviors are avoided: While a wealth of research confirms that the impact of afterschool programs goes beyond providing a safe haven, this feature is still very important because these programs offer adult guidance for youth tackling challenging circumstances with peers, create positive opportunities for dealing with issues in the community, and provide alternatives to risky activities and behaviors. (Ibid.)
- Healthy life-long connections and habits are formed: Afterschool programs promote a sense of community, enabling students to develop networks of friends where pro-social behavior and healthy relationships become the norm. (Afterschool Alliance. MetLife Foundation Afterschool Alert: Afterschool – A strategy for Addressing and Preventing Middle School Bullying. 2011)
- Greater school success is achieved: As with younger children, afterschool homework help and enrichment activities increase school engagement, improve academic and social outcomes, and spur higher education and career aspirations for preteens and teens. (McLaughlin, M.W., Community Counts: How Community Organizations Matter for Youth Development, Washington, DC: Public Education Network, 2000) Teens from low-income households who participate in afterschool programs are shown to be more likely to graduate from high school and attend post-secondary school when compared to teens who did not participate. (National Institute on Out-of-School Time, Center for Research on Women, Wellesley College, Making the Case: A Fact Sheet on Children and Youth in Out-of-School Time, January 2003)