After-school Tip #6: Give Lead-time to Leaders
In our last after-school tip, we discussed the importance of timing when planning activities for young people. This tip addresses the importance of time in a different way.
Give Lead-time to Leaders
Time to prepare is always an issue. We all struggle with the lack of time. Even when there is time for leaders to prep, if that time is not managed well, it can be wasted. So it is vital to support staff in using prep time wisely, and to figure out ways for them to have prep time if it is not a part of your program. There are several ways to ensure your leaders get the most out of their prep time.
If you are lucky enough to have daily prep time built into your day, don’t take it for granted. There are many programs that don’t have this gift. Use that time wisely. You should prepare for your prep time, as crazy as that sounds. Think about it: this is the time when you are going to get ready for whatever amazing thing you are doing with the kids. But you have to prepare to get the most out of it.
Think about prep time ahead of time, as if it were an activity you were doing with the kids. Think about what materials you need to prepare. Make sure you have brought them from home, picked them up, or know where to find them. Think about who you might need to check in with. Do you need to do any outreach to make sure everyone is available?
If you do not have prep time built into your programming, try to think outside the box and find moments when you can carve out prep time for your leaders. Perhaps you don’t always need all hands on deck, and a leader can step aside for 20–30 minutes to prepare. Make the most out of your staff meetings by allowing folks an occasion to prepare for what they will be doing with the kids. Every site is different, but there are often windows when there are fewer kids present, or when the kids need less supervision, and a leader can focus on something else for a bit.
We all know that you can’t just step into the kitchen and serve an amazing meal—you always need time to prepare and plan. The same goes for meaningful time with the kids. It is mandatory, and so it’s worthwhile to make sure you spend that time well.
Now it’s your turn. How do you allow prep time at your program? What out-of-the-box strategies have you used to give folks time to prepare? What are your biggest challenges with prep time? Maybe others experience the same struggles and have figured out solutions. We would love to hear from you! Share your story in the comments, and stay tuned for the next After-school Tip.
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