5 Constructive Ways to Entertain Your Kids After School

Sep 27, 2019 by

A 2017 census released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that nearly 80% of working mothers in the United States work full time. That means that now, more than ever, quality after-school programs and activities are essential for student success. Whether your child is enrolled in an afterschool program provided by the school, attends daycare, or is at home with a nanny or other family member, those few hours are precious moments that shouldn’t be wasted. Unsure of how to fill your child’s afternoons with enriching activities that don’t include electronic devices? Keep reading for some note-worthy suggestions.

1. Volunteer

It’s never too early to get kids involved in volunteering. Not only does it feel good to give back, but it helps kids develop empathy. Volunteering also looks great on college applications and resumes, so why not start at an early age? 

There are countless ways for children to get involved in volunteering, both during the school week and on weekends — and you can start right within your neighborhood. Help your child go door-to-door offering yard work services. Depending on where you live, there’s often a need for raking and bagging leaves or shoveling snow. Perhaps your elderly neighbor needs help cutting the grass. While some kids do these jobs for a small fee, encourage your child to volunteer their time. 

Most towns and cities would love a few helping hands for cleaning up garbage and litter. Contact your local town officials and find out about town-wide clean-ups or areas that need a little TLC. Food pantries and soup kitchens are another great place for students to give back to those less fortunate. If your child does want to charge for their services or set-up a small lemonade stand, encourage them to donate their earnings to a local charity. 

2. Tutoring

There’s no doubt that kids work hard in school. Most school days are anywhere from 6 to 8 hours long. While kids do need some “down time” after school, this is also the perfect time to utilize tutoring services. This helps reinforce the concepts and skills being taught in the classroom and helps struggling students make up lost ground. There are countless tutoring options available from hiring private tutors to utilizing an organized after school program

Tutoring does more than just offer academic support. Students develop confidence and make new friends. If your child is more comfortable, consider using a tutor they know or enroll them in a program along with some classmates. On the flip-side, your child can act as a tutor for others. If your child excels in a specific subject, ask their teacher about how they can offer help to other struggling students. Once students get older, tutoring can become a lucrative afterschool job. 

3. Dramatic Play

Ample research supports the fact that children learn through play — and dramatic play is often a child’s favorite way to learn. Can you remember playing pretend, using your imagination, and creating different scenarios with friends? But dramatic play doesn’t have to end the day your child leaves elementary school. 

Encourage your child to join the drama club or even take private classes at a local theater, community center, or performance group. Drama clubs are a great source for boosting self-esteem, expressing emotions, and making friends. Most high schools offer a drama club that takes place after school, with a live performance to cap off the year (and their hard work)! If your child loves to sing, dance, and be the center of attention, drama might be the perfect after school activity. If your child is too young to join a drama club, look into local dance classes or theater groups. 

4. Arts and Craft Activities

Art is another form of creative expression and makes for the perfect after school activity. Not to mention, what kid doesn’t enjoy getting a little messy? The material options are endless from crayons, markers, and colored pencils to paint, glue, beads, and of course, slime! You can choose different materials and themes for each day. Head over to your local craft store and pick out some easy to construct projects.

Love the outdoors? Try building and painting a simple birdhouse. Or head outside and collect materials for a collage — things like leaves, flowers, acorns, and sticks make for a perfect fall project. Are the holidays coming up? Craft gifts for friends and family like picture frames or magnets. If you’re worried about making too big of a mess, opt for stickers — you can purchase sticker books that allow children to create different scenes and match the pictures.

 Another great way to incorporate learning into the mix is to read the children a book and then give them paper, writing materials, scissors, and glue and tell them to recreate a scene from the book or make their favorite character. You’ll be amazed at how different each child’s project is based on the same story! 

5. Outdoor Play

According to the USDA, children should have at least 60 minutes of moderate play each day. The average recess block at school is 30 minutes. Some schools require PE every day, but for others, recess is the only time students have to get their energy out and engage in physical activity. 

Not only is physical activity good for their bodies and brains but simply getting outdoors, into the sunlight and fresh air, does wonders for their overall mood and well-being. Whenever possible, get kids outside after school! Take a nature walk, play games, visit the park, or ride bikes. Your child will love getting out their pent-up energy from school and this is the perfect time for you to talk to them about their day. Many schools offer after school programs that involve outdoor activities and play as well. 

And let’s not forget the 45 million children playing organized sports. If time allows, sign your child up for a recreational sports team. Not only will this check “physical activity” off the list, but it’s a great way for children to learn teamwork, comradery, and problem solving skills.

Don’t let your kids plop themselves in front of the television, tablet, or video game console after school. Instead, get creative and find ways to engage both their bodies and minds. This will leave them feeling enriched and exhausted by day’s end!

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