Five Benefits of After-School Activities

girl doing a martial arts kick, for article on after-school activities

Parents, do you ever wonder if you may be taking the whole over-scheduling taboo too seriously? For years, parents have been hearing that kids have too many activities, too much homework, too-heavy backpacks, too much screen time, too much sugar…and on and on.

Personally, I find most parents are intelligent, conscientious and trying to find a healthy middle ground for everyone in the family. Most parents want their kids to have just the right amount of after-school activities. The vast majority seem committed to helping their kids become happier, healthier, more well-rounded citizens without pushing them into activity overload.

So why not remember a few things kids stand to gain from after-school activities? Kids can benefit artistically, physically, socially, mentally and personally from after-school activities. I contacted a half-dozen after-school activity pros, and here are some of the many benefits for kids that we discussed:

Fit, Confident Kids.

As Elle Woods reminds us in the film Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” But motivating kids to get off the couch is not always easy for parents. Your kids are not typically looking to you to motivate them to run some wind-sprints or do a series of gut crunches. They need someone else to step in and motivate them to get moving. This is where after-school activities come in, preferably with dedicated, motivating coaches and instructors leading the way.

Physical activities increase coordination, inspire discipline and provide energy outlets for restless kids. So let another trusted adult be in charge for a change and enjoy your down time while your kids get more fit.

Lights Who Shine.

As much as we would like our kids to carry on our values and ideals, it’s really up to them to communicate to us who they are and what they believe. They are not small mirrors of us. And while we may like to think that our children are born whole and complete, the truth is kids often discover what they are made of after they become immersed in activities that stretch and challenge them.

Engaging kids in activities where they feel fully immersed in the experience and are responsible for their own mastery helps kids discover what makes them tick. Not to mention how to overcome adversity, how to lose gracefully or how to power through when things don’t go quite right. When it comes to finding an activity for your child, look for outlets that challenge them while providing gradual instruction and skill development.

Part Of Something Greater.

After-school activities offer kids outlets for expressing their energy within a safe learning context. Feeling part of a group with a purpose is a beautiful thing, so make sure that the space where your child spends time is safe, fun, developmentally appropriate and growth-centric.

Often kids become as attached to a center, a studio or a routine as much as they do to a group of peers. When kids go off to their activities, they should feel like they are going to one of their favorite places – to their home away from home. This can be especially important if your child is not finding belonging at school. If your child is continually unhappy with an activity, don’t be reluctant to check out other possibilities.

Enrichment Guide Color

Memorably Connected.

If there is one thing all after-school activity professionals agree on, it’s the importance of making memories via meaningful connections. Engaged, smiling, busy children are typically happy children. Whether your child’s activity happens in a place rife with variety or in a more specialized space, children are sure to grow over time, make memories and understand themselves better with regular participation in after-school activities.

Why not let your kids have the continuity of years of ongoing participation? It’s hard to advance up the activity ranks if you dabble in one activity and then another. Give your child a few years in elementary school to try different activities, allowing them to find out what they enjoy. Then see if they want to commit to an activity or two during middle school. High school students typically know what they want to participate in, so parents can help by volunteering or otherwise supporting their teen’s choices.


Some students need extra help to keep up academically, so don’t panic if your child turns out to be one of them. Your child may need extra help that addresses specific needs like standardized test preparation or responding to learning gaps. Other kids simply need help becoming more satisfied, confident students.

Tutoring can increase not just aptitude but also enthusiasm. And just as parents don’t always make the best coaches, we also don’t always make the best tutors, either. Besides, kids often progress faster and more willingly when they work with mentors they don’t already know.

Raising academic confidence by teaching learning skills in one subject can pay off in increased academic confidence across the board. So, if your child is struggling with critical reading, vocabulary or math skills, why not try a local tutoring service? Your child has nothing to lose and much to gain.

Kids need to feel successful today to become successful tomorrow, and activities can help them experience gradual, positive growth. If you don’t channel your child’s energy, video games, screens and other sedentary activities will always be a temptation. They can also be isolating, as many of us found out during the pandemic. If you want engaged, involved, smiling kids, help them find them some activities they enjoy.

Born For Boarding!45 After-school Activities for Kids:

  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Basketball
  • Karate
  • Lacrosse
  • Field hockey
  • Volleyball
  • Football
  • Cheerleading
  • Tennis
  • Dance
  • Tutoring
  • Gymnastics
  • Horseback riding
  • Coding
  • Cross-country
  • Skating
  • Yearbook
  • Martial arts
  • Hockey
  • Theater
  • Choir
  • Biking
  • Golf
  • Race preparation
  • Band or orchestra
  • Arts and crafts
  • Nature clubs/preservation
  • Gardening
  • 4-H Club
  • Scouting or Camp Fire
  • Youth government
  • School leadership
  • Philanthropic groups
  • Conservation clubs
  • Mentoring or tutoring
  • Robotics
  • Science club
  • Chess club
  • Creative writing
  • Volunteering
  • Faith groups
  • Music lessons

Author, journalist, and writing coach Christina Katz is grateful for the opportunities she had contributing to school literary journals and newspapers. She also worked off some of her teenage angst on the soccer field, on the softball diamond and in the school pool.

Aug 2023 After School Activities Pin

Categories: Education