The purpose of student engagement and outreach (SEO) is to provide holistic student-centered programs and services that enhance student life. Creating lasting memories through community engagement, connection building, and creative exploration is what after school is all about!
Strong attendance with engaged students are signs of a successful after school program. It means that your program is inclusive, interesting, and valuable for children and parents alike. On the other hand, a lack of solid attendance and disengagement from students can harm children and their families.
5 Tips for After School Student Engagement & Outreach (SEO)
1 – Analyze Your Strengths & Weaknesses
Are you providing children and parents with a well-rounded program? If not, some improvements might be necessary to enhance attendance and their overall level of engagement.
An after school program is a place for further learning, socializing, and, perhaps most importantly, having fun!
Every program has their strengths and weaknesses; after school practitioners who are continually looking for new ways to provide more value for the program are going to be the most successful in the long run. Those are the programs that will continue to develop, and attendance will rise as a result!
2 – Create a Culture for Learning & Fun
As an after school practitioner, you should focus on supporting the natural path of youth development, while being a mentor and leader to students. In some ways, an influential, positive culture will make that more natural than ever, and you will be able to keep students participating at their fullest capacity.
3 – Do Some Outreach
Striving to improve engagement within your after school program starts with an understanding of where you are. Performing outreach through student surveys as well as tabling to promote program offerings are just a few ideas to help you along the way.
Tracking data points and the needs or interests of your school will provide insights into what students are yearning for and what you can provide. When this is done, you will be able to make informed decisions about structuring your high quality program and how to affectively perform outreach.
4 – Offer Unique Experiences
Building up your program so that it’s fully optimized to provide the best experiences possible for children might take time. While you are traveling down that winding path, focus on making each day a unique experience.
Whether it’s a learning situation or an opportunity to socialize, recognize that each child is different, and provide activities that appeal to a diverse set of interests.
5 – Connect on Social Media
The most direct way to improve engagement at your after school program is by finding new ways to connect with parents. Sharing updates with parents of the children in your program will keep them involved and encourage attendance.
If you are providing unique, valuable experiences for children at your after school program, social media can help boost engagement just by making your work more visible and keeping parents updated.
You leave a lasting imprint on the children under your care, and you have an opportunity to improve their skills each day. As an extension of the regular school day, your after school program provides students with opportunities that expand their horizons! I challenge you to work with your front line staff so that you’re strategic in your planning so that each and every child receives the best possible after school experience!
For breakfast, I had avocado toast!