All Together Now

Many elementary children participate in special interest programs afterschool. Some are sports like Tae Kwon Do, swimming, or other seasonal sports. Some children participate in music, language, or enhanced academic programs. Other children take programs in their own school setting like Lego robotics, dance, singing, cooking, art, reading, and science clubs. All of these programs are designed to enhance or extend the learning potential of the child, and in many cases these programs promote a life long love of the activity. In school age care we too present special offerings within our programs that in my experience are called clubs.

Clubs in afterschool are special offerings that children choose to participate in if they have an interest in the subject and want to know more. The clubs follow similar themes or topics as the fee based clubs but take place within the afterschool framework. The clubs in afterschool take the interests of the children and expand on the length and depth of the subject to help children gain more insight on a topic of interest, and offer many benefits to the children who participate.

1. The club format in afterschool features small group size for each activity. This gives children the chance to explore a favorite subject in a slow supportive environment that encourages a deep dive into the topic at hand. This type of learning creates confidence and purpose for the learner and fuels future expansion of learning by taking the fear out of not knowing.

2. Clubs offer specialized instruction on a topic and the opportunity for children to use and learn about special tools and materials for the activity. The chance to incorporate special equipment and learn how to use it gives children skills to be more adventurous and creative in future work.

3. Clubs are great for children with different learning styles. Because clubs focus on a specific topic of interest, different clubs will appeal to different learning styles and preferred methods of work. With club offerings there are many ways for children to participate, making all the children feel welcome and challenged.

4. Clubs offer children with similar interests opportunity to connect over common ground. Children in afterschool programs who many never play together can use a club as a connection point to learn more about something they love with a person they do not know. Working together in the club encourages young children to work together and learn about each other over a shared common interest, build empathy, and community.

These are just a few of the benefits of clubs in afterschool. New clubs are generally offered each quarter of the year, last eight weeks, and meet once or twice a week depending on the club. They are a good supplement to the traditional afterschool program and encourage children to pursue their own work in the interest area after they have participated in the club. If you have not tried clubs in your program give it a try and watch the children grow along the way.

What types of extracurricular programs are offered for school age children in your area?

Does your program offer a club format after school? What types of activities are offered for children to explore?