According to the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), about 86% of children’s waking hours are spent out of school, and 13% of kids were alone and unsupervised between 3 and 6 pm in 2020.
These statistics are reason enough why kids need after-school programs, but how do we make sure kids want to go to them and are getting something beneficial out of them?
One of the best ways to get students excited about after-school programs is to meet them where their interests are! Students have a wide variety of hobbies and interests but with around 90% of kids between the ages 2 and 17 playing video games, gaming seems like the easiest target to reach all students. But can gaming after-school programs be beneficial for the students?
Short answer; yes!
For the uninitiated, this might not seem like a stretch but I assure you it’s not. There are studies out there that show video games help develop minds with hand-eye coordination and motor skills, but one of the main focuses of any great esports program is the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) aspect it can bring. A lot of students who play physical sports will learn basic SEL skills like teamwork, emotional intelligence, and healthy communication through their practices and time spent on a team. However, not every student wants to, can afford to, or has the ability to play sports which can result in a lot of our students missing out on vital life skills. From the previously mentioned skills, teamwork is probably the easiest to achieve through esports since most competitive games are team games. Gaming is notorious for being toxic and encouraging bad behaviors so you might be wondering how students could gain emotional intelligence and healthy communication habits through a gaming afterschool program. This really just comes down to the curriculum you’re using and the coach's ability to speak to students effectively. Talking with students about how to handle defeat gracefully, processing information, and applying past knowledge to new situations... then immediately practicing those skills in the game, can help students build those skills faster than just being dealt hypotheticals.
Not all gaming-related afterschool programs have to be competitive esports though. Another great way to capture the attention of students using video games is by teaching game development. Game development teaches students a wide range of technical skills like 3D modeling, animating, and coding.
The Afterschool Alliance found that in the US 50% (24.6 million) of children would participate in an afterschool program if one were available, so why not provide afterschool programs to students that are equitable, interesting, and overall beneficial to the students?
Check out the rest of our site to get more information on STEM Forged esports and game design programs!