Afterschool programs can ensure year-long success for your child. With the school year inching ever closer to the mid-year mark, a new report by the Afterschool Alliance finds that afterschool programs are up 6.5 percent with 10.2 million children now enrolled. However, the unmet demand has increased as well to 19.4 million children. It is important that parents and guardians focus on their child’s afterschool program, a prime opportunity for student enrichment.
The most effective afterschool programs are a resource for parents that can nurture the whole child. These programs can offer impressive gains in social-emotional, physical and cognitive development, creating the best opportunities for children to thrive.
Quality Afterschool Program
When searching for an afterschool program that will have the most impact on your child’s well-being, here are a few questions to consider:
1. Does the afterschool program present opportunities for continued learning? These programs can be a great way to enhance your child’s learning opportunities outside of the classroom. In addition to assistance with tutoring and homework completion, today’s progressive afterschool programs provide enriching opportunities for children focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and arts and humanities.
2. How strongly do they focus on a healthy and balanced lifestyle? Peak health for your child is important to maintaining focus and engagement in school. Look for an afterschool program that offers nutritious snacks. Also check and see if they follow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
3. Are healthy social skills promoted in the program? Social skills help children build a sense of self, and further develop and manage their emotions. Make sure the afterschool activities teach children the importance of working together in an inclusive, welcoming and respectful environment that provides additional opportunities to develop their social skills.
4. Is active learning endorsed in the program? Visit an afterschool program that encourages engaged learning and you’re bound to see inquisitive kids working side by side with staff members on any number of quality, enriching projects.
5. Will your child be safe in the program? Find out what safety policies and procedures are in place to prevent incidents, including the protocol for who has access to the students and who can pick up students. Also, be sure to ask about past incidents and find out how they were handled.
6. What are the staff’s qualifications? Make sure the staff meets or exceeds state certifications and regulations. Also make sure they have passed background checks. The Y works with all its certified teachers to make sure its afterschool programs enhance and align with strong academic content. Take time to observe staff in action. How does the staff engage in learning activities? How do they interact with the children?
The best afterschool programs should provide opportunities for you to observe and check in on your child’s progress and welcome your questions.
As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, we at the Y seek to nurture kids and teens’ social-emotional, physical and cognitive development from birth to career. With well over 5,400 afterschool programs nationwide, Ys in partnership with schools work to help youth achieve and succeed in school year-round. For more information about afterschool programs available in your area visit YMCA
Read more about afterschool program
Rebecca Kelley serves as Y-USA’s National Director of Achievement Gap initiatives. A first generation college graduate from Baltimore, Rebecca’s journey marks a dedication to leveling the playing field for all youth from when she attained a law degree from University of Cincinnati and leading Cincinnati Urban League’s youth programs. During 12 years with the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, Rebecca co-led a multi-sector community team that developed the award-winning Cincinnati Community Learning Center initiative and academic enrichment programs, including CincyAfterSchool, a 2013 nominee for National Summer Learning Association’s Award of Excellence. Through school-community partnership, Cincinnati produced a rise in graduation rates during the past decade from 50% to 82%, and a reduction in the achievement gap from 14.5% to 4.5%. As the director of knowledge and innovation for Strive’s National Network at the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, she supported over 90 cradle to career collective impact initiatives.