Sometimes there’s nothing worse than getting through a tough day at work, and then having to immediately jump back into something else that requires additional brainpower.
With kids and extracurriculars, this might not be much of a problem, as they can easily - and excitedly - jump from school to sports to theater to robotics club, etc.
Some kids might thrive, others might crave a break; some might be one way one day, and then the other way the next!
(Sure, school isn't top of mind right now, with it being summer and a year greatly impacted by COVID-19, but the old normal will again be a reality at some point.)
Pros & cons of learning after school
So, given the different variables at play, here are the pros and cons of learning after school that might hit close to home with you and your child.
Allows kids to dive deeper
With kids jumping from school period to school period to consume multiple subjects, and then having to tackle an additional breadth of topics underneath each subject umbrella, it can be tough for them to go beyond the surface of a particular topic.
After school, though, such restrictions are loosened, allowing kids to get involved with after-school enrichment activities, and experience new and more specific layers of one particular subject. Depending on the opportunity, that can be a deeper dive into a subject they’re currently studying in school, or, it could be something entirely brand new with which they haven’t had any experience at all.
Allows for personalized learning
There are many pros and advantages to the traditional education system where kids get up and go to school each weekday. But one big drawback is the student to teacher ratio. There’s no way around it, really, but what about outside of the traditional classroom?
With after school learning, your child is most likely going to be experiencing something much different; something more intimate. A personalized learning experience means that a student learns not only what they need to learn, but can also mean they’re learning what they want to learn, now that instructors don’t have to cater to an entire classroom. It’s easy to see how this can lead to max engagement.
Allows for specialized learning
Speaking of school, and going off of the two points above, what are your child’s favorite subjects? Geometry, chemistry, english, social studies? And, do they truly enjoy these topics, or do they just like them better than the other courses?
Allows for a different kind of learning
Some students don’t perform well under pressure, as is the case with exams, and it’s not just the grades that suffer in the end. Poor performance can lead to decreased confidence and lower self-esteem.
So, an after school learning experience may give students a new and different way of learning; one they might enjoy and one where they might find success. Now their confidence is on the rise, opening the doors to other positive outcomes.
Keeps kids busy
This is probably one of the most student-specific pros, and can actually be looked at as somewhat of a con (I’ll explain below), but you can easily see where I’m going with this. If your child needs structure after school, then additional learning might help.
Keeps kids too busy
I’ll start with this one in order to piggyback off of the pro mentioned immediately above.
Some kids and teens simply don’t need another thing to do. So, by “forcing” them into something else, you might be doing more harm than good. For instance, putting them into something in which they see no value could put a damper on the rest of their day, and even the coming weeks if it’s something they regularly dread.
Additionally, there is an opportunity cost to consider—if your child is spending their time in after school learning, that’s time they could be spending doing something else. For some kids, the benefit of just being able to relax or focus on homework, or do something on their own or with friends might outweigh the benefits of whatever after school activities you have them involved in.
And by “chaos” I’m referring directly to the family calendar, which for anyone with kids - even just one - can agree that scheduling and calendars can get quite chaotic. That’s not just referring to getting something to fit within your child’s schedule, but also any additional logistics in terms of getting them to and from their commitments.
This, of course, isn’t as much of an issue while everyone is at home, but when everyone returns to school and life in the general public, the logistics might still be able to be somewhat avoided with an online AKA “at-home” opportunity.
One obvious downside of “doing more” is spending more. But, as is the case with any extracurricular activity, can you look at it as an investment? From sports to music, and in this case, learning, all can be treated as investments in your child.
Additional pressure and anxiety
So, a couple things here. A student might absolutely love their after school learning activities, but at the end of it all, their “normal” tasks and responsibilities like homework, etc. are all there waiting. (To turn this into a positive, or at least a learning opportunity, you can dive into time management for kids, and help them understand that while days only have so many hours, that time can be maximized.)
In another scenario, your child may not like having to do anything after school at all.
In either case, your child might be left with added pressure and anxiety.
Of course, with all of the above, it just depends on your child and your family’s specific needs. The “good” can be really good; with your child flourishing and thriving with the pros listed.
If not, and kids aren’t doing well, hope is not all lost. Especially as we all make adjustments and try to navigate the new world in front of us, opportunities take a variety of forms. So, while one experience may not be something they enjoy and do well with, there is always something more.