University of Illinois Extension

After-School Activities for Children

Sheri Seibold, Youth Development Educator

After-school programs are critical for many young children today. We know that as many as 15 million children are left unsupervised during non-school hours. We also know that juvenile crime triples when the school bell rings at the end of the day.

If you are looking for a safe and fun place for your grandchildren to spend the after-school hours, check out the after-school programs in your community.

Children ages 5 to 10 need programs that provide routine, a variety of activities and choices, individual interaction with adults, games with simple rules, outside experiences, projects that apply school lessons to family and community, and opportunities for reading.

After-school programs for children ages 10 to 14 should provide connections to real-world experiences, a chance to interact in large and small groups, individual recognition, opportunities to serve others, physical activity, and opportunities for leadership and decision making.

Here are some tips for finding an after-school program that meets the needs of your grandchildren.

  • Ask a teacher or principal if your school offers a program.
  • Contact community organizations like University of Illinois Extension/4-H, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, local parks and recreation departments, churches, synagogues or mosques.
  • Talk with grandparents and parents about what their children do after school.
  • Call your local childcare resource and referral agency. They may have a list of after-school programs in your area.

If there is a fee for the program, don't let that keep you from pursuing it. Many programs offer financial assistance based on income and will work with you to make the program affordable for your budget.

Children get many benefits from being involved in an after-school program. They often show improvements in grades and attitudes about school, make new friends, and learn to respect people who are different from them.