In 2008, forty-six percent of public elementary school reported that a fee-based stand-alone program was physically located on campus.
-(National Center for Education Statistics, February 2009).
Whether or not that figure holds true in 2014 is not yet known, but count yourself – and your students – lucky if you have a program available to your students on your campus. A continually growing body of research proves that high quality afterschool programs have the ability to change children’s lives by engaging them in learning, improving their grades and test scores, and keeping them safe, healthy, and on track for continued success.
But afterschool programs, especially those located on a school campus, cannot do it alone. They must have the support of the school staff to truly sustain high quality.
If you are on a campus fortunate enough to provide afterschool services, here’s what you can do to help:
- If you are an administrator, first and foremost, communicate. Set monthly or bi-weekly meetings with afterschool administration to discuss the focus of afterschool program activities, needs, and wishes. Help program staff understand broad campus goals for student achievement. These meetings also help afterschool staff understand their role in the bigger picture of quality education on campus. Other roles of an administrator who supports afterschool are detailed in this article.
- Invite the afterschool team to present at family information nights, open houses, and other school-community events. Provide time for them to explain their goals and activities, as well as the benefits of afterschool programs.
- Share resources with afterschool programs. Whether it is a library, gym, cafeteria, science or computer lab, students benefit from access to specialized spaces. Cordoning off a school and restricting afterschool students to a classroom and a restroom limits the effect of the program. If necessary, create a classroom (or space) agreement like the one found on this site.
- Invite afterschool program staff to attend staff development opportunities. Campus-based training is often low- to no-cost and aligns the afterschool team’s pedagogical techniques with school day teaching.
- Know more about an administrator’s role in creating a quality school with a quality afterschool component. Read the report found here for dozens of ways to support afterschool.
- If you are a teacher, help programs align to the school day by communicating directly with afterschool personnel. A homework checklist, like the one found here, helps afterschool program staff know what you expect from your students.
- Help programs provide time for students to read, study, learn, and practice. Work with program staff to develop schedules that balance their needs. This skill can be second-nature to teachers but very foreign to afterschool staff.
- Lend program resources. Do you have a great read aloud book? Are there board games on your shelf you never have classroom time to play? Most afterschool staff would be happy to borrow these items for use in the program.
These are just a few of hundreds of ideas for supporting quality programming on your campus.
Remember to discuss needs and problem-solve so all parties – teachers, program staff, most importantly, students, benefit from this coordinated, focused effort. Most of all, be welcoming to afterschool program staff. Greet them in hallways and make them feel at home at school, just as you would a fellow teacher.
After all, these afterschool folks nurture the seeds you planted during the school day.
Image credit: NIOST
Author: Terri Marini
Teacher, Literacy Coach
Terri Marini is a middle school teacher and literacy coach on a school campus lucky enough to have an afterschool program. Previously the Vice President of Programs at Dallas AfterSchool Network, she was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the Program Quality Initiative and the Network. Terri continues her 30-year career in the education field where she held such positions as curriculum writer, staff trainer, and consultant. Her expertise includes working with young children through adolescents, as well as curriculum and instructional design. Terri holds committee positions on organizations that support her children’s education and sports interests. Terri earned a B.Ed. from University of North Texas with a literacy and early childhood focus, and a MS from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN with a major in Curriculum and Instruction with Technology. When she’s not teaching, she’s reading!