Every teacher at my kids’ school here in England is required to offer at least one extracurricular club per term. Some of the clubs take place during the lunch/recess hour and some take place after school, but just about every club is free. They’re included in the price of tuition. And there are so many options, my kids often have trouble deciding what they want to do each term.
This extension of the school day is amazing in a few ways. First, it gives parents another hour before the kids need to be picked up, which I am sure makes a huge difference for families with both parents working outside the home. Next, it gives the kids the opportunity to do cool things after school instead of coming home and hanging out with their boring mom. And finally, it gives the students the chance to try something new in a familiar and safe place, for free. There’s no downside.
This term Quinn is taking Cookery Club (which is not just cooking class, but the SCIENCE and PROCESS of cooking as well) and Dance Club (where he has already done some ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and hip-hop). Owen is doing Running Club, which takes place during his lunch hour on Mondays, and Hockey Club, which basically all the boys on the A- and B-teams in their class take and it exists as a sort of extra practice session. Gabe is also doing Dance club and Hockey Club, and both Gabe and Owen also do Swim Club, which is mandatory for everyone on the school swim team.
Bridget is taking Rifle Club (during lunch one day) with real rifles where she actually shoots live .22 rounds at the school shooting range. (Yes, the school has a shooting range. Normally used by the Cadet Corps Force, which is like JROTC.) She also does Equestrian Club (extra fee for this one, understandably), Drama Club, and last term she did a Ski Club (which also cost extra) where a school bus took the kids to an indoor ski arena about 45 minutes away and they did a 90-minute ski lesson. The school also provided dinner to the kids in the club (usually sandwiches, chips, fruit & dessert) and brought them back to school afterwards to be collected by their parents.
The number of clubs offered by the schools each term is amazing — Lego Club and Choir and Art Club and a club for every sport you can think of plus some you’ve never heard of unless you’re from England (netball, anyone?). There are Science Clubs and Gardening Clubs, there are Robotics Clubs and Modelling Clubs. It is unbelievable.
And it’s awesome. And it’s mostly free. And it’s another thing I wish they would implement in schools in the U.S. because it’s good for parents and good for students. The teachers here are accustomed to it – the teacher work day here generally runs something like 8:15AM – 5:15PM – so it’s just part of being a teacher at this incredible school.
I love that my kids are doing cool things and spending more time with their friends and not hanging out at my house playing video games (not that they’d be allowed to on a school night anyway, but you get my point). Long live after school clubs! (For at least the next 18 months until we have to move back to America.)