Help your child get connected
October 15, 2019


Encouraging your child to join a club or organization will help get them connected to other youth with similar interests. In addition to school-based extracurricular activities, many local youth organizations have educational and fun after-school programs. Organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, Scouts, and 4-H have great programs with proven track records, and in many states these programs have partnered together to offer even more opportunities for children. Even better, there are no try outs for community clubs, and there are no grade requirements.

A study at The Ohio State University revealed that children who belong to a youth club "gain a stronger sense of who they are as a person." The study also indicated that involvement in clubs also helps keep children from getting into trouble. "The more kids participate in these clubs, the better self concept they have," said Dawn Anderson-Butcher, an associate professor of social work at Ohio State. "And then the self concept makes children less vulnerable to engaging in problem behaviors."

Anderson-Butcher goes on to say that it is important that children build relationships with other adult role models which will lead to positive changes in their lives. These relationships take time to build, so it is important to encourage a child to give a new club a chance and to continue to go back.

"It takes time for children to develop an attachment for the club to feel committed to it, like they have ownership of it."

National 4-H has partnered with Tufts University to study youth development programs and their benefits to children. The 2002 study titled "4-H Study of Positive Youth Development" is a longitudinal study that surveyed more than 7,000 youth from a variety of backgrounds in 42 states that took place over an 8-year period.

"The longitudinal study discovered that the structured out-of-school time learning, leadership experiences, and adult mentoring that young people receive through their participation in 4-H plays a vital role in helping them achieve success."

There are numerous benefits of involvement in extracurricular clubs. Some include learning diversity, increasing self-esteem, making new friends, building relationships with caring adult role models, learning teamwork, and more. Studies have continued to show that participation in after-school programs "improves students' school performance, as well as their expectations for the future. In one study, students increased their standardized test scores by percentages almost twice that of other students. Principals and administrators frequently cite after-school programs as a reason for school improvement."

For information on how to get your child involved in an afterschool program or what programs are available in your area, contact a school or a local youth service organization. Many groups have excellent after-school programs: the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and 4-H (contact your local WVU or OSU Extension Service Offices for information about 4-H programs in your area).


Afterschool Alliance -

Lerner, Richard M, and Jacqueline V Lerner. "The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. ." National 4-H, National 4-H Council,

Ohio State University. "Youth clubs strengthen kids' self image to keep them out of trouble."

ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2010. .

Jodi L. Smith is a WVU Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development.


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