After-School Program Participation and Children’s Development

Authored by: Joseph L. Mahoney , Maria E. Parente , Edward F. Zigler

Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development

Print publication date:  May  2010
Online publication date:  June  2010

Print ISBN: 9780805859485
eBook ISBN: 9780203874844
Adobe ISBN: 9781135283872


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There has been increasing awareness that how children spend their time during the hours following school dismissal has consequences for their schooling and development. As a result, research on the risks and benefits of a variety of after-school activities has rapidly expanded. Like other organized activities such as school-based extracurricular activities or community-based youth organizations, afterschool programs (ASPs) operate outside of the school day and are characterized by structure and opportunities to build competencies (Mahoney, Larson, & Eccles, 2005). Different from some other organized activities, ASPs tend to serve elementary and middle-school school-age children (ages 5–14), provide service for most afternoons during the school week, and offer a curriculum that includes nutrition, academic activities (e.g., homework assistance), and nonacademic activities (e.g., physical recreation, arts, music, clubs) (Grossman et al., 2002; Kane, 2004; Welsh, Russell, Williams, Reisner, & White, 2002). Moreover, a salient objective of ASPs is to provide a safe and adult-supervised environment for children whose parents are working during the hours following school dismissal. This service permits parents to work without worrying about their children’s well-being during the afternoon.

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