After School Programs Fulfill More than Academic Improvement

Many parents are driven to search for high-quality after school programs where their children will enjoy academic advancement. However, parents should be cautioned to focus on more than academic outcomes in their quest for quality. Research supports that out-of-school time academic support, combined with enrichment activities increases academic success.


According to recent research1,  youth need times and places in their lives where the adult agenda is modest, if not held at bay; where the emotional temperature is low, and acceptance is generous; where learning is self-directed, experiential, and structured to be enjoyable; where talents can be identified and nurtured; and where possible identities can be explored without risk of failure or ridicule.


Including a variety of engaging and structured extracurricular activities along with academic support appears to improve academic performance. Harvard researchers point out that the common thread among all the studies they reviewed is not just that successful programs intentionally try to improve academic performance and therefore offer academic support, but that they combine it with other enrichment activities to achieve positive outcomes. These researchers conclude that while extra time for academics might be necessary, it was likely insufficient on its own to improve academic outcomes2.


How AlphaBEST aligns with research: While AlphaBEST dedicates time for students to complete their homework assignments, with staff assistance provided as needed, they don’t stop there. AlphaBEST’s wide variety of enrichment experiences—spanning STEM, world languages and culture, the arts and entertainment, and fitness and wellness—give students many opportunities for self-directed exploration of their interests while engaging in collaborative problem solving with their peers.


1 Miller, B.M. (2003, June). Critical hours: Afterschool programs and educational success. Quincy, MA: Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Little, P.M.D., Wimer, C., & Weis, H.B. (2008, February). After school programs in the 21st century: Their potential and what it takes to achieve itIssues and Opportunities in Out-of-School Time Evaluation, No. 10. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education.