Children & Families

March 14, 2001 2 min read

Keeping Busy: Participating in extracurricular activities is linked to better performance in school, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The study shows that about 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds who were involved in some type of extracurricular program were in the grades expected for their age, compared with about 60 percent of children in that age range who did not participate in such activities.

“Although it cannot be known from this analysis whether a causal relationship exists, participation in activities and success in school appear to go hand-in-hand,” the authors write.

The researchers also found that children living in two-parent homes were more likely than those living with divorced, widowed, or never-married parents to participate in extracurricular activities. Children in higher-income families were also more likely to be involved in such programs.

For More Information

The report, “A Child’s Day: Home, School, Play,” is available from the U.S. Census Bureau. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The report, “A Child’s Day: Home, School, Play,” also provides other insights into the way America’s children are spending their time.

Parents set more rules for watching television for younger children, ages 6 to 11, than they do for children ages 12 to 17.

Close to half of young children were read to by a family member at least seven times per week. But about 9 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds were not read to at all during the week prior to the survey.

Finally, about a third of 3- to 5-year-olds started some kind of nonparental child-care arrangement by the time they were 3 months old, and close to half were in child care by the time they turned 1.

The data for the study are drawn from the bureau’s Survey of Income Participation.

After-School Care: Mathematica Policy Research, a research group based in Princeton, N.J., is conducting an evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the U.S. Department of Education’s after-school initiative for elementary and middle school students.

The first results of the study will be available next fall.

With $12.7 million from the federal government, researchers will examine whether the centers improve students’ schoolwork, homework, and behavior, and will look at issues such as safety and self-esteem.

A companion study, funded by a $3.1 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, will look at the long-term effects of participation in the program on youth development and educational performance.

—Linda Jacobson

A version of this article appeared in the March 14, 2001 edition of Education Week