Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.
Afterschool activities can vary widely depending on factors including age, background, and the community of participating youth. Research on afterschool programming finds that the most effective activities adapt to individual and small group needs. Furthermore, programming should be as engaging as possible, incorporating hands-on activities and connecting with students’ interests and experiences.1
Different types of afterschool activities include:
These types of activities are intended to build on and enhance student learning outside of class time. They can take the form of more traditional instruction, complete with assessments, or more interactive activities intended to actively engage youth. These activities should be well aligned with what students are learning during the school day. These could be summer learning programs, reading or math afterschool enrichment. The U.S. Department of Education’s You for Youth site provides strategies for connecting afterschool activities to the school day.
Specialized Skill Development
These programs have activities that are built on promoting specific skills related to a specialty topic such as sports, arts, science and technology, youth development, and more. Typical program activities provided include soccer, drama, videography, poetry, coding, homework help, and arts and crafts activities. These activities are provided by content experts and lead to specific outcomes in terms of young people gaining specialized skills.
Community Service Projects
Community service projects provide an enriching experience for youth as they connect them to their community and instill feelings of empowerment. Furthermore, these activities can provide valuable work experience, particularly for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.2 The Corporation for National and Community Service provides resources to help plan community service projects for afterschool programs, including the Resource Center for Volunteer and Service Programs and the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse.
Field Trips are an exciting way to enrich a child's life outside of the normal classroom environment. They can include trips to museums, parks, zoos, aquariums, or any other local attraction that youth might find engaging and interesting. If there are no suitable locations in your area, many federal sites, such as the Smithsonian and the National Zoo, offer virtual tours and other online resources that could be enriching for your program.
Physical Activity and Nutrition
Afterschool programs are in a unique position to improve youth health outcomes, as they often serve populations most at risk for adverse health outcomes and occur at a time of day when many youth are traditionally inactive.3 Such activities can help youth make better nutritional decisions and promote physical activity while increasing self-confidence and emotional well-being.
STEM in Your Program: Curriculum and Activities
This webpage from Afterschool Alliance provides information and resources on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum and activities for afterschool programs, including resources from 4-H, NASA, and many more.
Other Resources on this Topic
Tools & Guides