What’s the first word that pops into your mind when you read the words afterschool program? If you said homework you are not alone. For many parents getting homework done is their number one priority during afterschool time. Afterschool programs are a hub of new ideas, engaging activities, group work at it’s best! Students come in from the day at school wanting to talk to someone. Anyone will do as they were structured and quiet and focused and working all day! Talk they do! There is noise. Lots of noise. It is loud as everyone wants to talk to their friends and their Afterschool Group Leaders. They want to talk about their day, where they are going later, who hurt their feelings and whatever else is important in that moment. It matters to them and they need to share and be heard. Along with the noise is energy, excitement, and there is anticipation. What are we going to do today?
Despite all these amazing things we can say about aftershool programs from fun, to learning, to homework to playing the most notable of all the benefits of daily participation in an afterschool program are the relationships built during this small window of time sandwiched in between the school day and family time. Afterschool team members get to have daily conversations with parents, grandparents or other loved ones of the students in their care. These daily conversations can be to share praises, invite a parent into the scope of activities, inform parents of concerns and generally be a way to connect with families in a most consistent, advantageous way. The peer to peer relationships in a more flexible environment allow for students to benefit from working together to achieve group goals and to communicate, share ideas, build things, draw things, eat things, discover things… together! You get the point so many opportunities and so much time for connection. Caring afterschool team members offer encouragement, guidance and direction during this time where the magic happens! Homework gets done and it is important. But oh, there is so much more happening when the school lets out!
Michele- Afterschool Labs Program Manager