Enriching Children’s Life

School-age children between the ages of 5 and 14 spend up to 80% of their time out of school. These hours represent an opportunity to help children grow and acquire important social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills and to help them develop lifelong interests.

This time can also be used to provide support for the academic challenges faced by children each day in school.
What is an Enrichment Program?

The National School-Age Care Alliance (NSACA) Quality Standards (Roman, 1998) describe the best practices in out-of-school time programs.

The NSACA standards specify that “children [should] have a chance to join enrichment activities that can promote basic skills and higher-level thinking.”

Examples of enrichment activities include Music and Languages. High-quality programs also provide time and space for children to become involved in long-term projects and productions.
Extracurricular Activities

The theory of multiple intelligences developed by Gardner (1993) broadens our view of how humans learn and realize their potential.

Classroom instruction focuses chiefly on logical/mathematical intelligences.

By tapping into the underutilized intelligences, such as musical intelligence, extracurricular activities can encourage the development of skills and interests not fully nurtured during the school day.

Extracurricular activities appear to provide leadership and social skills development.

These skills have been shown to lead to greater self-esteem and higher aspirations in both current academic situations and in the pursuit of long-term careers (Carns et al., 1995).

While lessons and extracurricular classes have always been a part of the lives of affluent suburban children, more attention is now focused on the importance of “enrichment” programming in the lives of all children (U.S. Department of Education & U.S. Department of Justice, 1998).
Benefits conveyed by music education:

Perhaps the basic reason that every child must have an education in music is that music is a part of the fabric of our society. The intrinsic value of music for each individual is widely recognized in the many cultures that make up American life.

Every human culture uses music to carry forward its ideas and ideals. The importance of music to our economy is without doubt. And the value of music in shaping individual abilities and character are attested in a number of places.

For instance, secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs). Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report. Reported in Houston Chronicle, January 1998.

Music is a magical gift we must nourish and cultivate in our children, especially now as scientific evidence proves that an education in the arts makes better math and science students, enhances spatial intelligence in newborns, and let’s not forget that the arts are a compelling solution to teen violence, certainly not the cause of it, according to Michael Greene.

The U.S. Department of Education lists the arts as subjects that college-bound middle and junior high school students should take, stating “Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them.

It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development.”

In addition, one year of Visual and Performing Arts is recommended for college-bound high school students. Getting Ready for College Early: A Handbook for Parents of Students in the Middle and Junior High School Years, U.S. Department of Education, 1997.


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