Organized Activities as Contexts of Development: Extracurricular Activities, After-School and Community Programs

Organized Activities as Contexts of Development: Extracurricular Activities, After-School and Community Programs

Organized Activities as Contexts of Development: Extracurricular Activities, After-School and Community Programs

Organized Activities as Contexts of Development: Extracurricular Activities, After-School and Community Programs

Synopsis

School-aged children in the U. S. and other Western nations spend almost half of their waking hours in leisure activities. For some, out-of-school time is perceived as inconsequential or even counterproductive to the health and well-being of young persons. Recently, however, there has been a growing recognition that--along with family, peers, and school--the organized activities in which some youth participate during these hours are important contexts of emotional, social, and civic development. They provide opportunities for young persons to learn and develop competencies that are largely neglected by schools. At the same time, communities and national governments are now channeling considerable resources into creating organized activities for young people's out-of-school time. This volume brings together a multidisciplinary, international group of experts to provide conceptual, empirical, and policy-relevant advances in research on children's and adolescents' participation in the developmental contexts represented by extracurricular activities, and after-school and community programs.

Organized Activities as Contexts of Development provides a handbook-like coverage of research in this new emerging field. It considers a broad developmental time-span from middle childhood through early adulthood, providing information on how motivation, participation, and developmental experiences change as youth get older. The contents cover one of the most salient topics in child and adolescent research, education, and social policy, placing consistent emphasis on developmental aspects and implications of organized activity participation for young persons. Representing contributors from several fields of study--psychology, criminal justice, leisure science, sociology, human development, education, prevention, and public policy--the book is designed to appeal to students and scholars in all these areas. Additionally, the volume is written to be of interest to professionals who administer programs and develop policy on youth.

Excerpt

Richard M. Lerner

Tufts University

In these early years of the 21st century a new vision for discussing young people has emerged, one that emphasizes that young people may appropriately be regarded as resources to be developed and not as problems to be managed (Roth, Brooks-Gunn, Murray, & Foster, 1998). This vision is predicated on a developmental systems theoretical view of human development that emphasizes the relative plasticity of behavior across the life span, and thus the potential for finding relations within the ecology of human development that may promote positive changes (Lerner, 2002). In addition, this view is furthered by the increasingly more collaborative contributions of scholars, practitioners, and policymakers; whether involving research or program design, implementation, or evaluation, their work is predicated on the idea that all young people have the potential for successful, positive development (e.g., see Eccles & Gootman, 2002), a potential that may be actualized if the strengths of youth are integrated with the interpersonal and institutional supports for healthy development that exist in the ecology of human development.

The present volume both reflects and significantly extends the theoretical and empirical knowledge base, and the lessons from youth pro-

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