After school enrichment is important to the whole community including parents, students, and educators, in so many ways. Extending learning activities beyond the 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. time slot provides an environment for students to further grow academically, allows a schedule that aligns with parents’ work schedules, and can offer activities that go beyond the school curriculum. From the school’s perspective, we wanted to understand the significant role of an after school program. So we asked four principals to tell us why after school enrichment is important.
After school enrichment is important for all of our student body
“After school enrichment is important for all of our student body, but here at Julian Curtiss we have a very diverse student body. We represent many different cultural backgrounds and many different socioeconomic backgrounds. We have students at our school that could very easily access these classes on their own through their families, and then we have a population that wouldn’t be able to access this kind of enrichment outside of our school walls. So it really is important to our community to have this available at our school and then, it’s a continuation of our day. When I say that I have two different student bodies, they come together in the afternoon and enjoy each other’s company again for an extended part of the day and participate in these enrichment programs.” – Trish McGuire, principal at Julian Curtiss Elementary School, Greenwich, Connecticut.
Helps develop the whole child
“Well, there’s a couple of reasons. One is you are supplementing education and you are doing that through offering activities that are interesting to the students and of interest to the families. It allows you, as a school, to kind of develop children’s skills, develop their interest levels in things that you either don’t have time to do or you don’t have the resources to do during the school day. So to me, it helps develop the whole child. I think most schools will say it is a priority of theirs to develop the whole child but often times between that 8 – 3 (p.m.) time slot when you look at priorities, those kind of interest-laden things might get pushed to the bottom. So I think a very healthy after school activities program can help schools with their philosophy or vision or mission to develop the whole child.” – Danny Vogelman, principal at Washington Episcopal, Bethesda, Maryland.
Provides children with multiple opportunities to be engaged
“It provides children with multiple opportunities to be engaged in after school programs that are recreational as well as educational. It’s made a real difference in the life of the school as far as the after school programs and what we are able to provide for children…. As a principal, part of my role is developing the whole child in whatever capacity that may be. We support art, music and PE and have a strong program because I believe that is important in the development of children. So when I am in the building after school and I see karate going on in the hall or basketball going on in the gym or some of the other activities that are going on, I see happy kids that are learning and developing and growing to supplement what we are doing at school as part of important childhood development.” – Diantha Swift, principal at Sligo Creek Elementary School, Silver Spring, Maryland.
Gives kids choices to tap into their interests
“I think it extends the learning day more than anything else and it gives kids choices to tap into their interests. I’ve always joked with people because I used to be a coach, and I said as a teacher you have a captured audience and as a coach you have a captive audience. As a teacher, your kids have to be there. Between 9 to 3 (p.m.) they have to be there, but if I’m doing an extracurricular, they’ve chosen to do that extracurricular and now I have a captive audience. I have a group that wants to be there. They want to learn, they want to extend. So having after school activities allows our kids to delve into the many very different interests they have and extend their learning. You have a robotics group, you have the gaming group, Minecraft, you have the cooking group and kids who maybe aren’t in during the day take a cooking class after school. Kids who maybe aren’t in our gateway class yet because they are in 6th grade take a robotics class now and it’s those opportunities that avail themselves to the kids beyond the learning day. So they are learning without really realizing it.” – Chris Nardi, principal at Thomas Pyle Middle School, Bethesda, Maryland.