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After-school Tip #10: Making Way for Learning Every Day

In our last after-school tip, we discussed the importance of letting kids do the talking, while the leader is the “guide on the side.” This tip addresses taking advantage of learning opportunities in everything you do.

Disguised learning: There are so many moments that are rich with learning opportunities, where you can involve the kids and they won’t even realize they are learning. By simply tweaking your daily routine, you can help kids build their confidence and skills. For example, say you need to report out how many kids attend your program every day. Why not let the kids do this math? Have them come up with ideas for collecting the data. Instead of guessing how many pieces of candy are in the jar, have the kids estimate how many kids they think attend the program on a given day. Do some days have a higher attendance rate than others? How do their assumptions compare to the data?

What are we having for snack time? The more you involve children in a process, the more engaged they become. How does a child who is told to eat his vegetables respond to this request, compared to a child who learns to grow and harvest broccoli from a community garden? In a previous tip I talked about the value of talking less and facilitating more. How can you encourage kids to take on leadership roles? Can the kids play a role in snack time? Could they poll others to find out what snacks are most popular? Could they figure out what snacks will fit in the budget? Could they decide how much you will need to purchase?

Let’s plan a party! Event planning takes a lot of thought and cooperation. People need to be invited, a space needs to be measured and secured, signs need to be made—and all of that happens before anyone walks through the door. The tasks mentioned above require reading, writing, and mathematics, and kids are rewarded for all their hard work with a party! Better still, determining roles and making sure everything gets done requires cooperation and communication skills. So, what are you celebrating next?

Now it’s your turn. Ask yourself: Where could I integrate more opportunities for kids to do the heavy lifting? What am I doing now to give the kids this opportunity? What are my biggest challenges with what I have just read? Share your ideas in the comments, and stay tuned for the next after-school tip.

Megan Green is the Western Regional Director at Center for the Collaborative Classroom (CCC). Megan played a lead role in the development of the AfterSchool KidzMath program and a key role in the development of the AfterSchool KidzScience program, a partnership with The Lawrence Hall of Science. In addition to developing materials, she has created and delivered professional development for after-school staff on math, literacy, and science. Currently, Megan manages all program and professional development for CCC’s eight out-of-school time academic enrichment programs. Before joining CCC, Megan was an elementary school teacher.

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