From origami to pizza club, children nowadays are spoilt for choice when it comes to after school clubs and activities. The purpose of such after school clubs and extracurricular activities has evolved tremendously over the years.
After school clubs started out as general extra supervision for school children with working families, however, over time they have transformed into a great academic and social opportunity, encouraging children and young people to thrive in a huge range of subjects and activities
The endless choice of clubs, classes and creative sessions provide fun and motivating ways for children to learn, play, develop new skills and gain new and exciting experiences.
Whilst they help to burn off some extra energy and keep them entertained for an extra hour whilst parents work, they also offer great developmental benefits that will no doubt enhance their academic abilities, as well as their social skills (maybe even their dance moves!)
After school clubs linked to improved academic performance
First and foremost, the most notable benefit of after school clubs is the improved academic performance of children who attend them. Many after school sessions offer academic activities such as the core subjects of Maths, English and Science, as well as some more intricate clubs such as creative writing, or a language that is not taught in the curriculum and that students otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to study.
Several researchers have proven that students who participate in after school activities are likely to have improved grades compared to those who did not. Results from similar studies have also highlighted that this can specifically affect disadvantaged students from poorer homes.
The Nuffield Foundation funded a study undertaken by NatCen Social Research and Newcastle University in 2016, looking at the academic progress of around 6,400 students born between 2000-2001. When comparing the findings of disadvantaged students (defined as those whose family income was below the poverty line of 60% of the average household income) who attended the after school programmes, and those from similar backgrounds who did not, it was found that those who did attend the activities made significantly more progress by the age of 11.
It has also become clear that after school clubs and activities are not only beneficial for students who partake in them, but also for the schools who host them. Improved academic performance of students attending these programmes has an overall positive impact on the schools exam pass rates, improving performance in league tables and increasing desirability amongst parents in the catchment area.
The parents of children who have attended Learning Hive’s after school programme, providing extra support to disadvantaged school children, have praised the tutors for the difference they have made in their child's academic performance. One parent said:
"Doing extra classes with Learning Hive has shown to be greatly beneficial for Amin as it has consolidated his learning at school"
After school sessions help to support working and low-income families
In general, children from disadvantaged backgrounds tend not to take part in after school activities, with children from the wealthiest backgrounds being 3 times more likely to take up music classes out of school hours than children from the poorest backgrounds.
For this reason, it is particularly important that schools and local councils do everything they can to encourage all children to participate, regardless of their social background, and also to ensure that such activities are accessible and affordable.
The use of after school clubs that provide services like music lessons and tuition in a group setting for free has seen a great increase in attendance by disadvantaged students. One study discovered that between the ages of 7 and 11, the proportion of disadvantaged students taking part in after school sports clubs rose from 41% to 61%. These figures exemplify the positive outcome of schools implementing after school programmes for children of all ages and all backgrounds.
Despite the assumption that all after school activities come at a huge cost, a lot of after school or extracurricular activities are in fact free, and if or when they are not, then support can almost always be offered to those who are eligible.
This brings extraordinary benefits to working families, low income families and disadvantaged children, providing parents with (mostly free) childcare, and providing children with opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access, perhaps due to financial limitations or accessibility restrictions.
Some students may also struggle to access computer technology at home, so the use of after school study clubs and extended library opening times with a mentor available enables them to make the most of the resources the school provides. This may help them to finish homework or perhaps undertake research on an area that interests them.
Learning Hive specialise in offering academic support out of school hours for disadvantaged students, helping to develop their skills and boost academic performance. Partnering with schools, parents and students, we have found tremendous success with our methods of small group tuition and other after school activities that encourage children to explore their passion, discover new learning opportunities and achieve their highest potential.
Deputy Head Teacher Shiree Alam at Azhar Academy Primary School spoke about the school’s partnership with Learning Hive and emphasised how positive the experience has been for both the school and the children:
“The sessions were effective in enabling children to reintegrate back into education by promoting good learning behaviours, developing confidence and consolidating key learning skills. The whole programme was inspiring, engaging and motivating for our children and definitely one that has been worthwhile. Thank you to everyone at Learning Hive.”
After school clubs increase social development and soft skills
Although academic performance is a crucial part of a child’s journey through school, building on their social skills and self-confidence is just as important. After school clubs enable students to interact with new people, develop interpersonal skills and learn from each other. They also help to discourage children from engaging in anti-social behaviours by keeping them busy.
Soft skills are a combination of people skills, communication skills, social skills, attitudes, social and emotional intelligence and character traits. Development of the right soft skills will enable a child to work well with others, be a team player and achieve their own personal goals.
There is a large body of research showing that extracurricular activities play a positive role with significantly improving soft skills for those who regularly attend - these include; independence, fitting in with peers, teamwork, communication and problem solving skills.
Extracurricular activities allow students to apply lessons and skills acquired in class to a real world context, particularly the use of soft skills. For example, students who take part in sports teams like football are given the opportunity to develop and improve their discipline, teamwork and communication, and students who take part in after school maths class will be able to implement skills such as problem solving and critical thinking - proving to work in both an academic and social environment.
Researchers continue to find data to support the statement that after school clubs are highly effective and beneficial in developing soft skills, boosting academic performance and overall helping young people.
Extracurricular activities bring physical and mental health benefits for children
Many extracurricular activities are often sports based, such as football, gymnastics and dance classes. These types of activities encourage a healthy lifestyle outside of the school curriculum which is physically beneficial for young children.
It is particularly important for schools in the UK to encourage their students to participate in physical activities; a BUPA survey (2018) found that the UK has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Europe, with 1 in 5 children aged 10 to 11 classed as obese.
Schools across the UK have implemented nutritional programmes within a school day, such as healthier hot dinners and snacks available, to tackle the obesity crisis. There are many ways that after school clubs have an impact on this too, offering free refreshments for students whilst they study and providing healthy snacks and water when participating in sports or physical activities.
It is widely known that physical activity and increased exercise can - to an extent - reduce the chances of an individual suffering from depression and anxiety. A study of 11,000 school aged children into the effects of physical activity on young peoples’ mental well-being, found that the social dynamic of physical activities can help to protect against depression and anxiety in childhood.
Children’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. An inquiry led by the mental health organisation Mind found that almost all of young people (96%) surveyed across England reported that their mental health had impacted their school work at some point.
Looking to offer after school provision in your school?
Learning Hive works tirelessly with schools and pupils to ensure that both their physical and mental health is looked after, that soft skills are developed and that academic performance is raised by offering enriching activities, delivering interactive sessions, creating a safe and calming environment.
Deputy Shiree Alam from Azhar Academy Primary School continued to comment on the impact Learning Hive has had on their students mental health and well-being:
“The children have really enjoyed the interactive and fun drama sessions which really helped build their confidence and self-esteem. The various other enrichment activities like arts and crafts, mindfulness, baking, sports and games benefited children’s mental health and wellbeing.”
If you’re looking to offer outstanding after school provision to your students, get in touch to bring Learning Hive to your school.