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The Importance of Afterschool Programs


Submitted by Abby Langdon, Cornell Cooperative Ext.

Afterschool programs, formally referred to as “latch-key” programs have become much more than strictly childcare. Although parents are often seeking such, CCE has used that as an opportunity to integrate hands on learning, leadership opportunities, team-building skills, and of course provide academic support. Afterschool programs have become a win-win situation for both youth and parents. Afterschool enrichment programs have several benefits.

There were over 2,125 single parent households with children under 18 years of age in Franklin County according to the 2010 census. Single parent or working households typically have more difficulty obtaining quality afterschool care and enrichment.

Health-risk behaviors such as early sexual initiation, violence, and physical inactivity are consistently linked to poor grades and test scores and lower educational attainment. Youth tend to engage in risky behaviors as such during the afterschool hours of 3-5pm.

While engaged in high-quality after-school activities, students may experience higher degrees of intrinsic motivation, place more effort into their activities, and feel less bored. Students are thus able to reinforce skills such as self-regulation, sustained attention, collaboration, and goal-directed behavior, skills that may translate into the classroom. Research on youth also finds that being mentored is related to more positive social relationships, higher performance, and less problematic behavior.

CCE afterschool programs incorporate at least one hour of academic assistance in every after school program offered. Teen mentors, local high school students, serve as mentors for youth both in education and in difficult growing and life situations. Encouraging academic excellence and providing peer support is important for healthy emotional and social well-being of elementary age youth.

Afterschool programs also target physical activity and reduce screen use time. Sedentary lifestyles come with a wide range of health risks. Each afterschool program provides a minimum of one hour of organized physical activity plus encourages outdoor play through all seasons.

CCE Franklins direct connection with Cornell University allows for almost unlimited access to research-based created curriculum to integrate into all programs. Curriculum used touch on topics such as, STEM initiatives and projects, animal science based learning activities, leadership and team building initiatives and activities, agricultural learning objectives, and nutrition, health and well-being projects and activities. Meeting the educational needs of the community is the primary goal, using any and all outlets, such as schools and community centers, has helped CCE reach this.

For more information on Afterschool enrichment programs visit our website at, email, call (518)-483-7403 or visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension office located in the county courthouse.


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