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Developing Social and Emotional Learning through Extended Day Programs Written by former School Superintendent Dr. Todd A Fay

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The benefits of before and after care programs like Flex are critically important now more than ever as school districts and students attempt to return to normalcy after the pandemic. Students desperately need to experience and develop the connections that were absent during the time away from the structure of school. They need to develop their social and emotional skills through face-to-face interaction with others as opposed to a video screen. Given that a great deal of learning has been done virtually, students likely can benefit from dedicated time for homework. Increased time with adults beyond the regular hours of the school day greatly assists in rebuilding the social connections.The safety and supervision provided during the critical after-school time is desirable for working parents who must go back to their office after a year of working from home.

As school districts return to life post-COVID, one of their primary areas of emphasis will be the development of social and emotional skills to bolster their mental health, academics, and attendance. An article in Eduopia.org entitled “Why Social and Emotional Learning is Essential for Students,” lists the key skills necessary for successful social and emotional learning.  Those skills such as: self-awareness and management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making are all greatly enhanced by before and after care programs.

Self-awareness includes the development of personal goals, values, and emotions. Self-management requires the development of attitudes and skills necessary for the regulation of personal emotions and behaviors. These relationship skills are grown through the increased time provided beyond the normal school day to develop and these programs are the perfect setting in which to do so. There is a great deal of research that connect these skills to academic success.

Before and after care programs are a necessity for parents in today’s working environment. Workplace demands are changing from virtual at home to back in the office increasing the need for quality childcare. They know that their children are safe while improving their behavior with others while developing the work habits needed for success.

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