After school programs, or out-of-school time programs, are instrumental in shaping our youth during the crucial hours after school while parents are at work (read my post on why we need after school programs). If you are lucky enough to be involved in one of these programs and you’re looking for some ideas as far as how to structure the time, read these tips from the executive director of an after school program that’s been active for over twenty years!
Draft your mission statement
Your mission statement will outline the priorities of your organization. Your priorities will be reflected in time segments. Our top priority is academics, and most of the time spent in our program reflects this through tutoring, homework help, and supplementary curriculum. Your mission statement can serve as a guideline for your program schedule.
Be realistic about when the children show up
Our program starts at 3PM, but we know most children don’t get there until 3:30 or 4PM. Therefore, we have homework time continue until 5PM to give the kids enough time to complete their tasks. You may need to re-evaluate and adjust your schedule based on what is actually happening. Keep great communication with your program staff on this topic.
Synthesize curriculum according to your needs
Aside from guiding the kids through finishing their homework, our program provides extra academic help through different mediums. We have used everything from copying pages from workbooks we keep on-site, to downloading online worksheets, providing online games, requiring book reports and reading from our library, educational software, etc. You can discover what works for you. We have utilized programs such as WordSmart , ThinkCerca and Abcmouse.com that you may find helpful if your program centers on academics.
Consider requirements by potential funding sources
If you are getting federal funding that will impact slightly how you spend your program time. I believe with our grant that thirty minutes of physical activity was required. You also want to consider that you may want to turn down certain donations if it means a significant departure from your mission. You want to stay true to who you are.
Sample after school schedule
This graphic shows how we structure our program the majority of the time. Our summer teen workforce program is completely different.