Hudson Valley Parent

HVP September 2015

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12 Hudson Valley Parent ■ September 2015 By HEIDI SMITH LUEDTKE T he intense demands of school work may cause you to hesitate when it comes to after-school time. Although you don't want to overload you child's schedule, the academic, social and physical benefi ts of extracurricular programs are hard to ignore. The Afterschool Alliance, an infor- mation clearinghouse and advocacy group, reports kids who participate in after-school programs have better school attendance, higher grades and loftier aspirations about graduation and college attendance. They're less likely to use drugs or get into trouble with police, and — because they log less screen time — kids in after-school programs are at lower risk of obesity. Kids also develop social and lead- ership skills in after-school programs, as they interact with peers in coop- erative roles and mentoring relation- ships. Now that's an impressive list of benefi ts. What to consider Before signing up, do your home- work. These guidelines will help you sort the best from the rest. Content. If possible, let kids choose activities based on their personal interests, says Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D., author of "The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent's Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go." Help your child fi nd activities that refl ect who they are and what they want to learn, instead of imposing your pref- erences on them. Kids fl ourish when they're deeply engaged. Quality. After-school programs aren't created equal. The best pro- grams offer much more than home- work help, says Sara Hill, Ph.D., After-school learning and fun! "Rather than causing burnout, after-school activities can provide balance to a class schedule that is overly academic." 6 things to consider when choosing extracurricular activities

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