December 21, 2012

School-age children who participate in structured after-school activities improve their academic achievement, according to a new study by researchers in SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. The study by associate professors Ken Springer and Deborah Diffily measured academic performance of children enrolled in Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas. Springer and Diffily both teach in Simmons’ Department of Teaching and Learning.

The study looked at data on 719 students in second through eighth grades who participated in after-school activities at one of 12 clubs during the 2009-2010 academic year. Among elementary and middle-school children who participated frequently in club activities, the researchers saw grades improve from the start to the end of the year. That was especially true for elementary students. The researchers also saw improved school attendance for both age groups.

Afterschool care activities can provide a child with a sense of success, says Diffily. “For children who live in poverty – often those who attend Boys and Girls Clubs – the clubs can ameliorate the pressures of poverty, such as living in an overcrowded apartment or a lack of after-school snacks.”

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