Dismissal bells ring around the country at about 3 p.m. every day. For many students, this where learning stops – TV, hanging out with friends, or spending time at home alone make up the rest of their days. For others, the end of the school day signals the beginning of a new adventure.
Conventional knowledge of afterschool programs makes little distinction between daycare and the dynamic range of activities available to today’s youth. However, children and teens in afterschool programs receive so much more than supervision. Today’s afterschool programs offer everything from cooking classes to program coding, and offer a broad menu of hobbies and skill-building. Additionally, afterschool programs provide a safe and supervised space for adolescents, especially older students, during the time of the day when they are most likely to engage in crime and risky behavior.
Studies show that students participating in high-quality afterschool programs display improved behavior and lower levels of absenteeism, earn higher grades, and perform better on tests compared to non-participating students.
19% of Texas students spend the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. alone and unsupervised.
Today, on the 15th annual Lights On Afterschool Day, students, parents, and programs across the nation are celebrating afterschool programs as a crucial space for youth to grow and thrive. In Texas, 18% of students participate in an afterschool program. However, 19% of Texas students spend the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. alone and unsupervised. There is still much work to be done in order to provide afterschool enrichment to all students.
United Way for Greater Austin’s Target Graduation program strives to improve the quality and availability of out-of-school programs in Central Texas. We are proud of the students in our community who continue to learn and lead outside of the classroom, and we are proud to support programs that provide high-quality experiences for children, enhance STEM offerings, and provide opportunities for summer learning.