Benefits of Afterschool Enrichment
Do you know what your kids are doing when the school bell rings at the end of the day? Every family has a unique set of circumstances that plays a role in the decision of what children do after 3:00pm. These decisions can be influenced by monetary constraints, a child’s age, interests or what other people are choosing to do with their kids. Afterschool hours are an important extension of learning that can offer many resources that complement the valuable experiences of the school day.
Most people recognize that the youngest children that we serve need to have a safe place to go afterschool. Kindergarten and first grade children do not have the problem solving skills to go home alone, get a snack and find something to do until a guardian gets home. Many people fail to recognize, however, that this safety and supervision becomes increasingly important as children age. While a fourth of fifth grade student may be able to find their own snack, they might also be willing to make riskier choices, especially when influenced by peer pressure. At a structured afterschool program, children are able to spend time with staff engaged in play and conversation which allows for mentorship, trust, and safety.
2. Engaging and Enriching Curriculum
With the move towards standardized testing in the traditional school system, many teachers are encouraged to teach using pen and paper to prepare for these exams. In afterschool education, students and teachers are able to remember what it means to have fun while learning. Instead of completing a reading comprehension worksheet on gravity, students are able to question and ponder while putting paint on cotton balls to watch the effects of gravity as the paint splatters their paper. Instead of listening to a lecture on the destruction caused by volcanoes, students are able to create a pop bottle volcano in the middle of their Lego city and watch as the “lava” invades their buildings. Students are engaged in the material while the staff is invested in the lesson, creating an atmosphere of curiosity and fun.
3. Homework Help
During the school year when families pick their children up, there is a four hour window in which guardians are expected to perform superhuman feats to complete all of the tasks that go into raising a child. Between soccer practice, dance recitals, piano lessons, football games and not to mention dinner, it seems like there is no time to sit down and invest in homework completion. Then when you do happen to find some free time between swimming lessons and choir practice, you realize that education has completely changed since you were in school. Lattice multiplication? No cursive? Is Pluto a planet or not? The afterschool program staff members are trained in these new practices, or have learned on the job how to teach algebra to a kindergarten student using smiley faces. With the help of these teachers, students are able to invest in reviewing the material taught during the day and go home ready to earn their orange belt without the thought of homework completion looming over their head.
4. Exploration Time with Friends
Children need time to be children. Children also need to learn how to become helpful and productive citizens. It is very hard to balance these two ideas in the classroom setting and the focus becomes learning rules and appropriate behavior. Sit down. Voices off. Make a straight line. That straight line needs to be quiet. While all of these rules are absolutely necessary and valuable, it does not allow children a good amount of time to just be kids and to play and laugh with their friends. In the afterschool program setting, children are able to play goofy games with their friends, laugh and joke around with the teachers, give hugs, smile and play.
A Sample Day in the Life of a Child in Afterschool
3:00- Snack (yum!)
3:10- Color Tag in the Gym
3:30- Free Play Outside
4:00- Curriculum Rotations
Station 1: Tie-Dye Coffee Filters
Station 2: Invisible Ink
Station 3: Addition Bingo
5:00- Choice Exploration Time