Children aren’t the only ones who benefit from after-school activities.
According to Katherine Ekeberg, gymnastics instructor at Jump Start! Gymnastics in Beachwood, and Sonali Morris, owner of Goldfish Swim School in Warrensville Heights, parents also can gain from the experience.
“From my perspective as a working parent, it was like I needed (after-school activities) when I launched my business,” Morris said. “My child was in a familiar place with people I trusted as I worked my day. For me, it was a stress reliever. As a parent, you see children are getting skills, socializing and making friends. It’s an extension of their day where they aren’t just wasting time watching TV or playing games.”
Ekeberg, who is also a parent, said after-school activities allow children to gain independence and to learn how to listen to other adult voices.
“This can help build the child and parent relationship as well,” she explained. “As opposed to just focusing on school, you can ask them about the skills they learned and the events of the day. It helps foster the connection and that is something that can build and grow. Also, hearing other adult voices outside of their parent’s voice can help them understand their parents’ voices as well.”
Both professionals said parents can benefit in many ways.
“There is the benefit of the child working on an activity that is physically strenuous to an extent, so they come home happy but tired,” Ekeberg stated. “Also, there is the benefit so being able to have them transition from the rigid structure of school to the release of an activity.”
Morris said parents experience “soft benefits.”
“I see it as a stress reducer and the peace of mind,” she said. “The kids are happy and enjoying it, so from that end, everyone is functioning better. Even now, my kids are in high school and they are doing things after school. The endorphins released allows for great conversations in the car. They talk and their minds are going. These captive car ride conversations keep the relationships going. They have something to talk about with you, which can lead to other conversations.”
Ekeberg added stay-at-home parents or those who homeschool can enjoy some “me time” with after-school programming.
“It can give them a moment to recharge their battery,” she explained. “The children are here and most of our classes run for an hour and a half at length. That is the time where the parents are welcome to stay here in class or the parent can go and get their grocery shopping done. It allows the child to do something fun, and the parent can do an activity that needs to be done anyway. As a parent, it’s hard to step back and take that time for yourself. But if the child is safe and having fun somewhere, it’s easier.”
Every parent can find advantages to sending a child to an after-school program.
“Any parent can find merit in this, but it could be different from parent to parent,” Morris noted. “A working parent gets that peace of mind, but from another parent’s perspective that is home all day or doing other things all day, this can give them some extra personal time. They can also make friends with other parents and that builds a community and mutual connection.”
Ekeberg added, “Every parent finds a benefit for themselves. I don’t even think you could qualify that each type of parent finds the same benefit either. You see the whole gamut of it. Some parents are just happy to watch their child enjoy an activity. At a certain age, parents cant observe their child in the learning environment anymore. This is an opportunity for parents to come and enjoy their child enjoying something.”