Participation is recognised as a key to health and wellbeing and is considered to be a vital part of the development of children and youth. The purpose of this study was to examine the participation patterns of children and adolescents in their time outside formal school. More specifically, the influence of age and gender on after-school participation patterns was explored.
Three hundred and thirty-two children and adolescents (5 to 18 years old) were divided into five age groups and completed the Children's Assessment of Participation and Enjoyment (CAPE). To test the interaction effect of gender and age on participation measures, ANOVAs were conducted.
The results indicated differences with moderate to high effect size in participation patterns across age, where a decline in participation was detected as children made the transition to adolescence. Differences with negligible effect size in participation were found between boys and girls in some of the activity types. No interaction effect between age and gender was observed.
Participation patterns change with age, particularly as children make the transition to adolescence; however, this change does not depend on gender. Intervention strategies might take into account these inherent changes. Future studies might consider additional factors (for example, environment) while examining participation throughout age.