Economic constraints and lack of access are two major barriers leading to black children missing out on extracurricular activities. These activities often provide educational and developmental advantages that extend beyond the regular school curriculum. However, these beneficial experiences remain elusive for many due to the aforementioned challenges.
Extracurricular pursuits offer many benefits to the people who take part in them. Sports and athletics, school clubs, the performing and visual arts, community work, and leadership activities are all included in this category. Kids can improve their self-esteem and social and emotional skills by taking part in events outside of school. They can also befriend people who like the same things they do outside of school. As the kinds of things to do grow and become more diverse, kids can choose from a wide range of things to do. If you like nature and being outside, you can join a scout group or try out for a sport. Some people may find that theater, dance, or singing are better extracurricular activities. Even though there are a lot of choices, children of races and ethnicities that aren’t the majority are less likely to take part in extracurricular activities because of social and economic factors.
Findings have shown that good after-school or extracurricular activities can help students do better in school and learn social and emotional skills. Along with working with their friends, extracurricular activities give students extra support and mentors who may be able to help them in ways that aren’t covered in school. According to studies, effective after-school activities have been demonstrated to aid in students’ social and emotional development. But many Black children can’t get the benefits of this because they don’t have enough money or access to good services.
Even in kindergarten, there is a difference between the number of Black and white children who participate in extracurricular activities. A study done in Ohio found that white children were 2.6 times more likely to play sports than children of other races. Researchers found that factors that affect participation rates include wealth, parental schooling, and proximity. For kids from low-income homes, their parents may not be able to take time off work to drive them to and from after-school events. For more involved events, like travel teams, there are fees and hikes over the weekend and at night. Some people may be unable to do them or find them too expensive. The study also found that the participation rate for students whose moms had a graduate or professional degree was 97%, while it was only 47% for children whose mothers had only a high school education or less. This could be because people with higher degrees tend to get better-paying jobs, which gives them a better work-life balance.
Black students are less likely to participate in extracurricular events because they don’t have easy access. The After 3PM report from the After School Alliance found that for every Black child in an after-school program, 3 more kids were hoping to get in. More over half of Black kids would participate in an extracurricular or after-school activity if one were offered. This is a higher number than the 46% of white children and the 50% of children in the U.S. who want more after-school and extracurricular activities. Most black parents said there were no programs in their area, and safety was their top worry, so they needed safe transportation to and from facilities. The situation has been deteriorating over the past few years. For example, the number of Black parents who said that programs were too expensive and that traveling was too dangerous went up by 18% and 10%, respectively. From 2014 to 2020, an average of 2.4 million Black children took part in these sports and events, but by 2020, that number had dropped to 1.5 million.
There are also differences in income between different groups of Black people. About 63% of families said their children took part in summer and after-school programs or other activities outside of school, while 88% of Black families in the top income bracket said the same.
Even though there is a difference, Black parents generally view after-school programs and extracurriculars positively. They say that these types of programs help keep kids safe in the hours after school, spark interest in different topics, and provide valuable learning and enrichment opportunities. They also like that the programs are run by other people who can watch over and protect the children while the parent is away. More than 90% support efforts to get the government to spend more money on these programs and activities so that they are more available and easy to get to.
Policies should be pushed for and implemented to get more money, give a wider range of activities to appeal to more people, lower costs and fees, and ensure there are enough and safe ways to get around. With more money, buildings can also be built closer to places where transportation is hard to get to or doesn’t exist at all. To ensure that Black children reap the benefits of extracurricular and other after-school programs, much effort needs to be made immediately.
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