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 KEEPING KIDS ACTIVE AND SAFE AFTER
THE BELL RINGS
 What will your child be doing after school?
When the bell rings at the end of a school day, millions of children across America are left to their own devices while they wait for
their families to return home at the end of the workday. According to the Afterschool Alliance, 21,584 Alaska students (K-12) are alone and unsupervised after school for an average of 4.9 hours each day.
Research shows that the hours between 3 and 6 pm are when kids are most likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as commit crimes, drink or use drugs or become the victims of crime.
But the hours after school can present life- changing opportunities for students who participate in effective after-school programs. The Alliance notes that after-school programs in Alaska keep kids safe, boost student success, and help parents keep their jobs. Kids achieve more, productivity goes up, and risky behaviors go down. Communities become safer, too, when kids are occupied after school.
After-school activities offer a whole host of benefits to kids. When kids engage in these programs, they get the opportunity to learn important social skills, meet a wider variety
of peers, and gain more confidence and self- esteem. What’s more, research shows that children who attend after-school programs have improved attitudes and do better in school. Kids are also able to explore areas of interest that
aren’t covered in school, or more deeply delve into school subjects they find fascinating.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
But how do you choose the right after-school activity for your child? While a child may participate in an after-school program merely for recreation, to connect with peers or as a way to extend the learning they do in school, their parents may rely on after-school programs as
a form of childcare. So while you’re considering your child’s interests, don’t forget to think about your own needs.
For instance, one barrier to kids participating in programs is transportation – but not all after- school programs are able to provide a ride to or from school. Boys and Girls Club, which operates 25 clubhouses in cities and villages throughout the state, partners with neighborhood schools
to provide transportation in many communities. Many local non-school programs also take transportation into account. Some YMCAs, faith- based programs and martial arts classes, for example, offer after-school pick-up. If cost is a concern, ask about scholarships. Many private organizations offer financial assistance.
For info on after-school programs and activities, see our After-School Guide at alaskaparent.com/ guides/after_school.
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