The 3 Key Social & Emotional Benefits of Social Time: How Before-and After-School Programs Help Children


In addition to strengthening academic skills with homework help, STEM activities, and more, before- and after-school care provides a safe environment for children to develop critical social skills. From problem-solving to boosting self-esteem, and learning how to get along well with others, children who engage in time with their peers outside of school reap social and emotional benefits, giving them valuable tools for real-world success.


  1. Socialization Builds Problem-Solving Skills

As children navigate experiences with their peers outside of school, they have more opportunities to develop important problem-solving skills. With team-building, group activities and free play with others, children learn to rely on each other to win a game or reach a common goal, sharpening life skills — like cooperation and negotiation — along the way. They also learn how to take turns and to manage themselves and others (Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD Temple University, USA, University of Delaware, USA).


  1. Social Time Boosts Self-Esteem

Providing more opportunities for children to build confidence during social time boosts their self-esteem, which is critical for child development. When they engage with their peers in before- and after-school programs, children build self-esteem by developing successful peer relationships, mastering new challenges, learning new skills, and taking on leadership roles.


  1. Social Skills Helps Kids Have Success in Groups

Learning how to get along well with others helps children be successful in group situations well into adulthood. At a time when screen time threatens to dominate a child’s free time, having more opportunity to master valuable in-person socialization, like learning to identify and react to the social cues you only get from engaging with peers in real-life, helps children build lifelong friendships.


Research also supports that young people benefit from consistent participation in well-run after-school programs. According to Beth Miller, author of Critical Hours: After-School Programs and Educational Success, studies of students who attend high-quality programs for a significant period of time show improvements in academic performance and social competence, including better grades, improved homework completion, higher scores on achievement tests, improved behavior in school, increased competence and sense of self as a learner, better work habits, fewer absences from school, better emotional adjustment and relationships with parents, and a greater sense of belonging in the community.


The YMCA provides inclusive before- and after- school programs that support the needs and priorities of the child, the family, and the school. We emphasize academic success, social development, and emotional wellbeing in a safe environment that encourages children to thrive on every level.  Click here to find a convenient on-campus childcare program near you!

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