Foundational Research: Learning Outside of School

The need has been resoundingly heard: Youth need access to more structured learning opportunities outside of the regular school day. SOAR has extended our Making Sense Family Resources curriculum to these types of structured summer programs and after-school programs on or near military bases across the nation and around the world. SOAR recognizes that military families want to provide high-quality education for their children. SOAR aims to support them and their military community support personnel in this endeavor.

According to The Afterschool Alliance, the evidence is consistent, positive, and convincing: Opportunities for learning outside of school are essential in expanding the learning that takes place during the regular school day. Students who participate in after-school programs and summer programs that utilize research-based approaches:

  • improve their school attendance and engagement in learning.
  • improve their test scores and grades.
  • improve their personal, social, and academic skills.
  • improve their self-esteem.
  • limit their exposure to juvenile crime, and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex.

Students who are exposed to rich and research-based learning opportunities outside of the regular school day by paricipating in after-school and summer programs are safe, healthy, and on-track for success. Conversely, youth who do not are more at-risk for significant learning loss. Our military youth, who often experience frequent relocations and overseas living, may suffer tumultuous transitions socially and academically. reports that indicates that participating in youth activity programs (e.g., summer and after-school programs) eases these transitions by helping students to feel competent and like they belong.


After School Alliance (2011). The Afterschool hours in America. Retrieved from

Military.Com (2011). School-age programs. Retrieved from