After the bell

Almost eight in 10 of middle and high school students in the U.S. take part in after-school and weekend activities, with more than half of them participating every day, a national survey says.

A large majority of students say those activities play an important role in their lives, according to the survey, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and conducted by Public Agenda, a public policy research firm.

But the survey identified a wide gap between high-income and white respondents compared with low-income and minority respondents, who are more likely to say they have difficulty finding quality programs that are affordable and convenient.

While low-income and minority families tend to enroll their children to improve academic achievement, the majority of families cite reasons such as enhancing interests, values and growth, the study shows.

When provided a choice of activities, more than half of the students surveyed would choose sports, more than three in 10 opted for an activity like music or dance. and another three in 10 chose programs that focus on academics or homework help.

Although the number of children in after-school activities is high, the study shows that almost three in 10 are home alone at least three days a week.

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