An after-school activity is any organized program which invites youth to participate outside of the traditional school day. Some programs are run by a primary or secondary school and some by externally funded non-profit or commercial organizations. These after-school youth programs can occur inside a school building or elsewhere in the community, for instance at a community center, library, park, etc. These activities are a cornerstone of concerted cultivation, giving children experience with leadership and dealing with adults. Such children are believed by proponents to be more successful in later life, while others consider too many activities to indicate overparenting.
There are myriad organized after-school activities, for children and youth. They can focus on a variety of activities or issues. In some cases, they do not focus on any of the following:
- Sports, including soccer, baseball, scooter racing, hockey, swimming
- Performing arts, including dance, drama, ballet, choir, and band
- Creative arts, including painting, drawing, crafts
- Academic enrichment, including Cramming schools for literacy, mathematics, etc.
- Outdoor education, including Scouting, Girl Guides, Boys' Brigade, Campfire, 4-H, cadets
- Financial literacy, including Jump$tart, Junior Achievement, and others.
- Extracurricular activities in schools, including DECA, Future Business Leaders of America into one environment, including community centers, After-School All-Stars and Boys and Girls Club of America.
The motivation for participating in an after-school activity is often that working parents wish their children to be supervised. Proponents often believe that if unsupervised, children may fall into criminal or undesirable activity such as drug-taking or teenage-sex.
In the United States, after school programs are increasing in number and popularity due to rising support from states and the federal government. Interest in utilizing after school programs for delinquent prevention increased dramatically after research found that juvenile arrest rates peak between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on school days. By keeping students involved in school related activities it lessens the chance for them to get involved in crimes, use drugs, tobacco or alcohol. After school programs give students role models and a safe place to learn and play. Some parents may place children in after school programs so that their children are provided with opportunities for enrichment or academic improvement. Other parents are predominantly concerned with ensuring that their children are in an affordable, safe, supervised environment after school 
Advocates of slow parenting believe that children should be allowed to develop their own ideas. Getting bored is a step towards having an idea for something else to do. Having no adult organizers allows the children to find their own structure.
In her book The Price of Privilege, psychologist Madeline Levine found that children of wealthy families were more likely to suffer psychological dysfunctions such as anxiety and depression. By spending so much time in organized after-school activities, and missing out on time or emotional closeness with their families, they fail to develop self-management which is a powerful precursor to both psychological inner strength and academic achievement.
Not all children fit ideally within any single mould. While there may be some that benefit from being supervised and pushed towards didactic goals, others will end up achieving more on their own, or with minimal supervision according to the Chinese philosophy of wu wei.
Some after-school activities are provided free of charge at the point of delivery, while the majority are for-profit businesses which charge for membership. They are sometimes government-funded, especially where it is believed that the parents may not be providing a good home environment, and so professional care may be better.
After-school activities are organized differently around the world.
After-school activities in Britain are typically organised commercially and paid for by parents. Many children attend several a week, and occasionally even more than one per day. Similar activities also occur at weekends.
There is typically less focus on the managed "enrichment" than in the USA, beyond the basic choice of activity; for example football (soccer) is physically active and develops teamwork.
A number of states have organizations that work to give local after-school providers resources and training. For instance, the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance and the California Afterschool Network provide resources on the state level. On the national level, the Afterschool Alliance serves as a national advocate for after-school activities.
In California, after-school programming at the secondary level is funded primarily with 21st Century High School ASSETS (After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens) program grants. These grants stipulate programs must include academic, enrichment, and health and nutrition components.
The after-school programs at California's elementary schools are predominately funded with ASES (After-School Education & Safety) Program grants mandated when voters statewide approved California's Proposition 49 (2002). These grants provide for much of what the ASSETS grants provide at the secondary level, though there is an added family literacy component.
Throughout Southern California, non-profit providers work in partnership with school districts to provide after-school programs for k-12 students. Typically school districts apply for the grants to fund the local after-school programs. Then districts either elect to manage those program internally or outsource management to a Community-based organization (CBO), Non-governmental organization (NGO) or other local non-profit provider. Beyond the Bell is a district run and managed after-school program offered to students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). THINK Together, California's largest non-profit provider, contracts with approximately 20 Southern California school district partners to run and manage academically oriented after-school programs at approximately 200 school sites located across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
After school programs are very common today in the United States. The 40 largest national youth organizations today have a total membership of about 40 million youths. These programs have shown results of better test scores, improved homework completion, higher grades, and even the psychosocial development of the student. There are many different after school programs that are implemented in the United States. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America focus mainly on positive youth development. Their staff provides information, guidance, and emotional support regarding a wide range of issues that youths face in often high-risk neighborhoods  Beans and Rice Organization is a community economic development organization that builds assets and develops capacities in low and moderate income families through economic and educational programs. Beans and Rice offers afterschool programs in Pulaski, VA and Radford, Va. Volunteers for Beans and Rice serve as mentors, tutors, and teachers. All volunteers receive training and close supervision from both Beans and Rice staff and experienced volunteers. Elementary students who participate in the Beans and Rice after school programs are given snack, tutoring, active play opportunities, and positive role models. Working for Beans and Rice is required by all students taking Math 312 at Radford University.
A number of players have started providing after-school support services, but the number is still very small considering India's large population and the importance of education to the Indian middle class and others. More players should be entering the market to provide quality support, which the normal schools with larger class sizes and traditional teaching techniques don't provide. From the existing set of after-school study providers the ones most sought after are the ones with individualized learning modules that complement the K-12 school syllabus. Way2Success Learning Systems is the first for-profit provider in India of academically oriented individualized after-school programs that complement the school syllabus. They operate in the New Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad areas.
- extracurricular activity
- Soccer mom
- Concerted cultivation
- Parenting styles
- Slow parenting
- After-School All-Stars
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- Mahoney, Joseph L.; Larson, Reed; Eccles, Jacquelynne S. (2005). Organized activities as contexts of development: extracurricular activities, after-school and community programs. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 45. ISBN 0-8058-4431-7.
- Snyder, Howard N.; Melissa Sickmund. (1999). Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report (PDF). Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. p. 65.
- After-school fact sheet
- Frabutt, J. 2004. Do after school programs reduce delinquency? Retrieved from http://durhamnc.gov/ich/op/DPD/Documents/after_school_fact_sheet.pdf
- Hirsch, B. J. (2011). Learning and Development in After-School Programs. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(5), 66-69.
- Wu, H., & Van Egeren, L. A. (2010). Voluntary Participation and Parents' Reasons for Enrollment in After-School Programs: Contributions of Race/Ethnicity, Program Quality, and Program Policies. Journal Of Leisure Research,42(4), 591-620)
- Honoré, Carl (2008). Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From The Culture Of Hyper-Parenting. Orion. ISBN 978-0-7528-7531-6.
- Levine, Madeline (2006). The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids. Harper Collins. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-06-059584-5.
- Beans & Rice home page
Lindsey, Jennifer, "Quality After School Time: An Evaluative Study of the Eastside Story After School Program in Austin, TX" (2010). Applied Research Projects. Texas State University Paper 322. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/322
- AfterSchool.gov - US Government website for after-school programs
- Way2Success Learning Systems For-Profit After School Program in India
- after-school provider Directory for after-school activities in the UAE
- Afterschool Alliance
- Willamette After School
- Center for Afterschool Education
- National Institute on Out-of-School Time at the Wellesley Centers for Women
- Out-of-School Time at the Harvard Family Research Project
- The After-School Corporation
- Hot Topic: Character Education - Service-learning-related after-school program information at Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning Clearinghouse