The school day does not have to end at the final bell. After school programs, once seen as budget-straining luxuries, are now essential for a modern district.
Research proves that it is important to have a thriving after school program. The benefits for students are boundless: academic performance, social/emotional development and health outcomes can all improve as a result.
But how do you implement a successful one? There is a large mix of factors that go into developing a great after school program, so we highlighted three in this article. Building a diverse mix of classes, offering instruction in new/emerging fields and facilitating role model relationships with top-notch instructors can take your enrichment to the next level.
Figure Out the Right Mix
If you want an after school program that is the envy of your county or state, you need as much variety as possible. From robotics and STEM-focused programs to physical fitness classes and imaginative drawing classes, you need to be able to offer lots of choices to lots of students.
More choice generally means a higher enrollment, which leads to more students receiving the benefits of extra instruction, exposure to new interests, and experience interacting with adults.
Promote Emerging Tech
If you research an after school program, you need may see lots of classes that feature Minecraft or 3D printing or other such hi-tech wizardry. Don’t dismiss these things as fads. Being the first school around to offer a 3D printing class after school can have a lasting effect. Just ask Bill Gates. When he was in eighth grade in 1968, his school invested in a serious computer that cost several thousand dollars. All Bill did was join the computer club, learn how to program and become the richest man in the world.
Challenge Your Students
The other prong of this line of thinking is challenging students. Young people need and want to be stimulated. And being at the forefront of a changing world is essential for an educational institution. Those challenges promote leadership and decision-making skills, which are primary objectives for a solid after school program.
Allow Mentors To Flourish
Student interaction with positive adult role models (in addition to their teachers and parents) can have a real impact. Think about who the most important voices were as you grew up, beyond your traditional authority figures. For many, it was a coach. But it could also be a beloved piano teacher or the creative art teacher who ran the after school painting club. Exposing students to new subjects and fresh faces facilitating that learning can have enormous benefits.
The management of all those programs can get unwieldy, which is why having after school program management outsourced to trusted professionals is such an attractive option for administrators. That strategy takes much of the headache out of offering after school enrichment, yet still gives the school community what it needs.