I have been working with after-school programs across the country since 1998. In that time I’ve learned some things that make academic enrichment activities more successful with kids after school. Over the course of several blog posts I’m going to share these helpful tips with you so that after-school time doesn’t become more school. Kids will still be engaged and having fun, but they’ll also be learning important academic and social skills. Let’s make it great!
Meet with your school(s) to find out what areas to focus on, where kids need more time, and how you can work together to align with what they are focusing on. It is so important to have a connection with all of the people who work with the children during the day. Remember these are the same kids at 3:15 PM as they were at 8 AM. I think we know that but sometimes we have to remind ourselves. We should work together to make sure we’re serving the whole child across the whole day. Everyone should be involved, from the bus driver to the crossing guard to the staff in the lunchroom and of course the school-day and after-school staff.
It might take some time to get in the habit of coordinating efforts and staying connected with our in-school colleagues, but it’s important to make the effort to reach out. Request a meeting with your colleagues at your local schools to start a dialogue about how you can work together to support every child across the day. If you’re wondering how best to coordinate your efforts, I’ve included several resources to help you kick-start this journey and maintain your momentum!
For ideas about setting your first few meetings and getting to know your in-school colleagues, read Sommer Clayborne’s blog post, 5 Tips for Effective School Collaboration.
If you know the schools in your area are working to implement the Common Core State Standards, you might read our Common Core Tip: Common Core Support Beyond the School Bell.
If you already have relationships established and are looking to flesh out a plan of action, check out our Expanding Minds webinar series. The first webinar will help you learn about the research and best practices that show how quality after-school and summer learning programs make a positive difference for students, families, schools, and communities. The second webinar provides an overview of the groundbreaking compendium of studies, reports, linked resources, and commentaries by more than 100 thought leaders including educators, researchers, community leaders, elected officials, advocates, and other prominent authors.
If you have ideas to add, or success stories about building relationships, we would love to hear from you. Lend your voice in the comments.