Clubs are a programming choice that can contribute a great deal to your after school program. After school clubs create opportunities for personal growth for children. They give children practice in making manageable longer-term commitments and create an opportunity for skill and attention span development. Such groups also provide children with an avenue to self-esteem: a means to excel at something they enjoy.
Children in clubs benefit from an adult who possesses some degree of expertise in the clubs interest area. Leaders of the club can be chosen from the program’s staff, but community volunteers often are willing to share their knowledge with interested children.
Those clubs that capitalize on children’s interests are the most successful. Children should be involved in the planning through surveys and conversation. Just as school children in another age might have had informal after school clubs in the neighborhood, children in after school programs may have clubs that form and reform around different interest areas and with different members. At the YMCA of Western CT, clubs have included Paper Mache, Gardening, Puppetry, Rainbow Loom, Sewing, Theater Arts, Various Sports Clubs, Photography, Newspaper, Science/Cooking, Kidz Lit, Kidz Math and Kidz Science, Woodworking, Nature, STEM, Poetry, Indoor Group Games, Smart Board Games, Teambuilding Games, Karaoke and Community Service. They usually try to offer opportunities for short term clubs (once or twice a week for a month) so each club has a longer stretch to get involved in art projects or skill based sports . Most importantly, if the kids suggest a club because they have an interest or a hobby, they try to incorporate it into the mix.
Clubs are a way of approaching programming that is developmentally appropriate for the children, capitalizes on their interests and has the support of parents. Children love clubs!