After school programmes are set up for any number of reasons. Having an option for children to stay in school after lessons have ended gives them a safe space to be if parents are unable to collect them at the end of the school day. But it’s also a valuable time for students to catch up on work from their lessons with more focused attention from teachers and teaching assistants if they need a little extra help getting to grips with certain topics.
Let’s not forget that another reason for after school program activities for kids is fun! Joining a club will give kids the opportunity to bond with other students in their class and even in different years over a common interest. Here we’ve listed some of the basic types of club activities for primary school you might want to include in an after school programme.
1. Confidence building activities
One benefit of joining an after school club is the opportunity to build up confidence. Introverted children won’t be faced with the pressure of a whole class to contend with, and the smaller number of children involved in an after school club means more one-to-one time with the teacher who can make sure they are properly involved in any activities. Here are some ideas for confidence-building activities that will get children in the group talking and making friends:
- Find a common thread: task the members of the group to find something they all have in common. It could be a favourite sports team or a food that no one likes, anything as long as every person in the group can agree on it.
- Train tracks: this is a game that will allow the members of the group to get to know one another without even having to speak. Lay down two ropes or strips of paper on the floor, these are the train tracks. Have all the students stand in the middle of the train tracks, then shout out two options, for example, ‘summer or winter’. When you call out the two options the children should jump to the right over the tracks if they prefer the first option and over to the left if they prefer the latter. Give the kids a moment to look around before returning to the middle.
- Hot seat: this is a good game to get the students using teamwork and cooperation as well as verbal communication. Split the group into two teams and select one player from each team to sit in the ‘hot seat’ at the front, facing their group and in front of the whiteboard. Write a word on the board for each team and then have that group try to help the person in the hot seat guess the word by using synonyms and descriptions. They cannot say what the word is.
Find affordable Mobile Swivel Writing Whiteboards here on our website.
Find out more ways for children to make friends in our blog post on friendship activities for primary school.
2. Physical Activities
Children have seemingly unlimited reserves of energy and sometimes letting off some steam at the end of the day is a good idea. You might want to incorporate physical activities in the after school programme, or at least give the children the option to use the playground.
Outdoor play can be extremely flexible, including games and challenges, or just the freedom to run around and have fun. It’s a good idea to make sure the students have access to some playground equipment like an Outdoor Play Gym. Not only do these provide a motivator to get moving but are easy to transform as props and environments in all sorts of games.
If it’s organised sports activities you want to bring to the after school programme, a set like this Throw and Catch Kit means you can stock up on all sorts of equipment for hundreds of different games in one go.
3. Educational activities
Educational games and activities also have a place in after school clubs. There might be topics covered in class that the students could benefit from going over, or looking at in different ways. Our blog on science activities for after school clubs offers some exciting practical experiments that students can carry out together which reinforce topics like reactions, natural cycles, and cause and effect.
TTS proposes an extensive list of ideas for educational games and activities organised by topic. Choose from eco, photography, cooking, crafts, and more. There is a wide selection of ideas for quick-fire activities to fill up time, as well as more in-depth projects that can be approached as a team. Examples are growing a vegetable garden, organising a litter pick, and holding a film club with reviews.
Growing a herb garden is a wonderful idea to encourage students to work as a team and teaches the value of patience and care. Growing a vegetable or herb garden can be even more rewarding as the children get to taste the results of their hard work.
4. PSHE Activities
One reason children might want to join an after school club, or might be recommended by their teachers, is if they feel like having some downtime away from school lessons and home, in the company of peers, could be a benefit to them. For example, some children might experience emotional or mental difficulties that could be helped by spending time with their classmates in a relaxed setting or trying new things that don’t follow the curriculum.
PSHE activities are useful in after school time to help children understand, explore, and process things that are affecting them. In fact, there are many circle time activities that can easily be used at the beginning or end of an after school club session to bring everyone together and give the teacher and students an opportunity to check in with each other.
Waterford offers 51 mindfulness activities for children that cover all sorts of techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, guided meditations, and other simple activities that help children to think about and deal with any stressors they could be facing.
Games that allow children to think about how they interact with others are a useful way to get them thinking about real-life situations. We offer a Bullies, Victims & Bystanders Boardgame that challenges children on what constitutes bullying and what the right and wrong things are to do when you know it’s happening.
We can’t forget the last, but no less important, aspect of after school club: having fun! Children who stay for after school clubs should not feel as though it is an extension of their lessons, not only with this be an unenjoyable experience, it’ll tire them out and make it difficult to come back in the next day and start all over again. Giving children time and freedom to do what they enjoy during after school club is the most important thing. It might be a good idea to give the students 20 minutes of ‘me time’ during the after school programme each day. This could be at the beginning of the session, so they are able to have a break and mentally separate school from after school club.
Make sure the children have somewhere comfy to spend time, perhaps in a quiet reading corner, where they can do something peaceful. Alternatively, they might want to get outside and run around. Giving them the options so that after school club feels like something they are choosing to do is imperative to ensure they want to come back next time.