A study of 6,400 children found that those participating in activities and organized sports at ages five, seven and eleven were more inclined to achieve a higher than anticipated level in math by age eleven.
An academic increase was also observed for disadvantaged students who attended after-school programs. They attained higher scores in science, math and English at the end of primary school, lessening the attainment gap between poor students and their more affluent peers.
Academic improvements are not the only benefit documented for children participating in after-school activities. Improved social, emotional and behavioral skills were observed from students who participated in organized activities, in comparison to their peers who did not.
With there being so many advantages to participation in activities including sports, music, language, tutoring and arts classes, many schools are offering school-based clubs as an affordable alternative for poorer students. For disadvantaged students who do not have access to formal out of school activities, after school programming is imperative.
The research could have an impact on policy makers concerned with education, as well as implications for after-school childcare programming. Development of varied after-school activities offered to students is already in the works for many public elementary schools.
It is clear that the structure and delivery of after-school activities have a positive impact on disadvantaged students. The importance of exposure to these experiences are even more significant for poorer students who may not typically have the opportunity to participate unless the program is offered after hours via their public school.
These findings are a clear indication that more involvement on school grounds for at-risk students is beneficial in not just social ways, but in academic ones too. The investments like that that we make in students will pay off down the road for society at large -- as well as in big ways in the lives of these children.
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.