In today’s economy, no school has been left untouched by budget cuts. Extra-curricular activities have fallen to the wayside as schools struggle to meet the demands of academic child development, yet this has left millions of students with nothing to do at the end of every school day. The disturbing byproduct of these cutbacks is an alarming increase in crime and drug use by young people. Many communities are combating this trend by developing low cost, after school program options for families who can’t afford organized sports or classes. The proof that these programs work is demonstrated in reduced crime rates, a lower dropout rate, and a reduced need for special education programs due to poor academic performance. With a little initiative by parents, this is doable in any community. In this article, you will find some advice on how you can team up with other parents to create these valuable programs in your own neighborhood.
The most important part of all community programs for kids is fun. Ideally, after school programs should allow kids to have new experiences that aren’t a part of their normal creative activities and seat work day in school. This can include sports, music, dance, drama, or learning a new language. If you want to start an effective after-school community program, then look at where there is a need or want. Do the kids want to learn how to play basketball? Is skateboarding popular in community? Motivation is the key to success. Children who like the activity and choose it will work harder and do well. To make the program successful, you need coordinators who are skilled in the activity and are strong leaders.
Running your program out of a school has a number of benefits, including easy access for students, lots of space, and access to materials and school printables, as well as equipment. You’ll have to meet with the principal to discuss your idea and encourage his or her participation in the planning. Choose a time that does not conflict with other sponsored programs. You also must be very clear about liability and safety responsibilities. Establish a “contract” that details the ground rules for your program and make sure that all parties agree on all fronts.
Once you have hired qualified instructors or have chosen volunteers, you have to let the community know about your new after school program, or programs. Design a flyer or brochure that clearly outlines the nature of your program, its intent, and fees if any. Use exciting language to describe the program and how it will benefit families. Be sure to include contact information like a phone number or email address, and if possible, a website where parents can get more info.
An after school program can be a great way to round out a child’s education. These programs can expose them to new activities that they never get to experience in a classroom. Most importantly, a quality program should be fun and engaging. Popular programs include computers, art, kids crafts, music classes, and opportunities for children to perform community service. Always keep an open dialogue with parents and take their concerns and comments to heart. Listening to them and the kids is the best way to make your program an invaluable service to the community.
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