Much of the research on constructive use of out-of-school time has focused on the positive effects of participating in sports, creative activities (such as music and art), and religious activities. Researchers suggest that these types of activities may contribute to positive youth development because they provide youth with appropriate structure, opportunities for skill building, and supportive relationships with peers and adults.(26)
Positive out-of-school time activities can range from a group of young people hanging out at a friend’s house and playing basketball when a parent or other responsible adult is home, to more formal, licensed programs with highly structured curricula offered through schools.(27) They may be afterschool activities provided by community organizations or neighborhood programs that integrate school and community resources.(28) Whether structured and formal or impromptu and self-directed, constructive use of time has been associated with positive cognitive, behavioral, and social developmental outcomes.(29)
Therefore, providing young people, like Nick and Alex, with positive experiences that encourage constructive use of time helps make boys more likely to succeed as adults.
Research into what works to build boys’ strengths and reduce the challenges they face is still growing. Although the results are promising, efforts continue to pinpoint what strengths make some boys more likely to succeed and what risks, or challenges, increase the likelihood that they will struggle.