Breakfast Club Blog

Safe Schools: Utilizing Youth Leadership Programs to Develop a Safe School Climate

In developing school based approaches to create safe schools and positive school climates the single most important factor that youth leadership programs neglect to focus in on is the importance of developing a sense of belonging to a group identity for young people. We know that “After transition to middle school, peers become primary sources of support and motivation to achieve while the quality of teacher-student relationships tends to decline with time” (Wentzel, 1996). As we set...Read More

Using Voice and Choice in Afterschool Programs

As afterschool professionals, we give a lot of lip service to the phrase “voice and choice”. Theoretically, we understand that students feel more ownership of their afterschool programs when they are able to voice their opinions and provide input into the program. Sounds easy, right? Like most good ideas, however, implementation is much more difficult than it sounds. Students are most likely not going to gather and discuss collaboratively what they want the program to be. There is al...Read More

What Are You Planning For Your Summer Vacation?

It’s the middle of winter so, of course, I’m thinking about summer programs. We know summer programs are important for education and the fight against obesity. Learning requires momentum and so does establishing a healthy lifestyle. Without summer programs to keep children’s minds and bodies active, many children, especially those from low-income backgrounds, experience “learning loss,” become less physically active, and fall into unhealthy eating habits. As a resul...Read More

It’s Time to Think and Act Differently

Over the past several months I’ve met with leaders at the White House, the Senate and Congress and with high level federal department officials and executives of national organizations. I’ve spoken with California’s top policymakers, sat next to the Governor on a flight to Los Angeles and presented at several conferences across the country. With few exceptions, I’ve been surprised by how little folks know about the impact of funding for afterschool programs and the impact...Read More

Making Connections- Youth Development and Academic Achievement

For many afterschool programs having an academic piece that really does make a difference in the lives of their students seems an elusive goal. With more and more stress being placed on afterschool programs demonstrating how their activities improve the academic achievement of their students, it has become increasingly important to understand what fosters this kind of success. One way to evaluate whether academic activities will produce the desired results is to look at them through the lenses o...Read More

Waiting for Superman?

For five years I mentored a student in Alexandria, Virginia. He lived with his grandparents in the same “Berg” housing projects made famous in the Denzel Washington movie Remember the Titans. During my time with this young man I witnessed a series of personal tragedies beginning in fifth-grade. His two younger half-brothers were taken from his home and sent to foster care. His 15 year-old-sister gave birth to a baby boy and dropped out of school. His grandmother went blind and had he...Read More

After Afterschool: Developing the Future Workforce

Most school-based efforts to introduce students into the workforce take the form of job fairs that promote traditional careers, but by all accounts, ten years from now the job market will look noticeably different than it does today. Some traditional jobs are likely to disappear. Others will survive, but the job descriptions and requirements will change. Some new fields, such as “green” technology, will evolve into major employment sectors. Entirely new professions will emerge, ones ...Read More

Teaching Creativity

A couple of weeks ago, I received a copy of a Newsweek.com story on one of the multiple listservs I receive. I confess, I don’t usually read everything that I receive through a listserv, and often, I will save an article or link “to read when I have time.” This article, however, caught my eye, and I am really grateful I took a further look. Titled The Creativity Crisis: For the First Time, Research Shows that American Creativity is Declining. What Went Wrong—And How We Can Fix ...Read More

Seven Super Tools to Prevent Misbehavior

Super Spaces When you walk into a gymnasium, you behave differently than when you walk into a library. The environment sends cues to the brain about how you should feel and behave. Provide an environment that encourages desirable behavior. The space should say “Play with me!” in a way that clearly defines HOW to play. The way you arrange your space and what you put in your space tells children what types of behavior are expected in that space. Control the environment, not the child. ...Read More

Adolescent Girls and the Media: A Look Beyond the Mirror

Let’s face it- growing up female can be tough, but growing up female in this day and age can be REALLY tough. There are a LOT (and I mean a lot) of unique challenges that adolescent girls face and one of them happens to be the “M” word. What is the “M” word, you ask? Here’s a hint: something that has the ability to impact girls’ perception of themselves and their body image? Any guesses? Well, chances are you probably said media. If you did (and I’...Read More

Summer Style

School’s almost out, and across the country kids are getting ready for summer camp. Back in the day, everyone brought a big trunk, loaded with bug spray and books, bandannas and band aids and of course, secret stashes of candy. There was lots of anticipation about which counselors would be there, which kids would be in your cabin, and what activities you were going to sign up for. Believe it or not, these camps still exist. Sadly, they’re mostly not available to our after school kids...Read More

Reach out to the Gifted in Your After School Programs – Provide the Spark for All to Learn

More than a majority of professional literature and conferences are geared to disadvantaged, underserved, underperforming, and English learner students. We talk about Closing the Achievement Gap. This has been the case for more than a decade. Do we often forget to look at the strengths of students and gear some of our activities to their strengths? Do we actively seek out gifted and above-average learners in our after school population and stretch their thinking? In closing the achievement gap, ...Read More