Afterschool programs

Can Afterschool Programs Help My Child Build Social Skills?

By Whitney Hollins

Can afterschool programs help my child build social skills?

Whitney Hollins

Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College

Yes, afterschool programs can be a good opportunity for your child to develop her interpersonal skills. And she can build them with kids as well as adults. It can also be a good way to create and maintain friendships.

Afterschool programs give kids a chance to interact with peers in a different environment. It’s usually less formal than the regular school day. Some afterschool programs focus on academics and provide extra help to students who need it. Other programs are built around fun activities such as dance, sports and drama. Many programs combine academics and extracurricular activities.

Whatever the focus of the program, it’ll encourage your child to interact with kids she may or may not already know. Making friends may be easier for some students in this environment. Afterschool programs include many opportunities to socialize.

During my time working at an afterschool program, I noticed that at homework time, kids would help each other, check answers and compliment each other’s work. During gym time, they would dance together or play games. Rarely did they work or play alone.

Afterschool programs also help kids feel more comfortable interacting with teachers. During the school day, many teachers feel pressure to get through their lesson plan. They’re busy juggling the demands of a large number of students. In afterschool programs, the group is usually smaller. Teachers have a chance to provide more individualized attention. The teachers also tend to be less formal after school. Some teachers let the kids call them by their first names. All of this can help your child feel less pressure to get everything correct. She may be more likely to ask for assistance and more confident that she’ll receive a positive response.

Afterschool programs could also help your child discover she has a talent for art, dance, sports or other activities. Getting recognized for her talent could be a source of pride and confidence.

These programs can be a great way for kids to enhance their academic skills while at the same time improving self-esteem and social skills. The relaxed environment could provide a comfortable space for your child to thrive.

About the Author

Portrait of Whitney Hollins

Whitney Hollins is a special education teacher and adjunct instructor at Hunter College.

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