How Afterschool Programs Strengthen Communities

July 22, 2021

Parents want to give their children the best of everything and that includes their school, social, and extracurricular activities. One of the primary benefits of a great afterschool program is that it can potentially provide all of this and more! 

What is an Afterschool Program? 

An afterschool program is a program that is created for the students and is scheduled usually for an hour or two after regular school hours end. 

Afterschool programs can come in many forms. Some provide additional tutoring, homework help, additional recess time or playtime, afterschool clubs or afterschool activities, and more. 

These youth programs are not only beneficial to the students but to parents as well. 

Your child can get even more academic help from professional teachers and tutors, additional socialization time with their friends and peers, and opportunities to take up their unique interests like art or music. 

Parents who work or have busier schedules can also benefit from the later pick-up time that an afterschool program provides. 

Benefits of an Afterschool Program

Afterschool programs greatly benefit the communities they are in. They take care of the children in the community, aid in youth development and social/emotional learning, and provide additional academic support. 

The benefits of an afterschool program also depend on what is included in your school's afterschool program. Some of the things that afterschool programs commonly provide are: 

  • Snacks 
  • Tutoring 
  • Homework help 
  • Extra class time 
  • Playtime 
  • Recess time 
  • Clubs 
  • Sports 
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Opportunities to socialize 

Along with these potential benefits, afterschool programs generally include professional staff who can care for, watch over, and help tutor your students in their academic or extracurricular endeavors. 

Kids can have a chance to work one-on-one with teaching professionals to cover topics discussed that day in class and really drive the material home. Teachers who are more familiar with the material they are learning are also some of the best people to help students with their afterschool homework. 

Working parents can especially benefit from afterschool programs because their child's school pick-up time can better match when they are getting out of work. 

Where to Find a Local Afterschool Program

We've already established that afterschool programs can be really great for kids and parents alike. But how do you find an afterschool program near you? 

As a parent, you care a lot about your child's education, activities, and care. You don't want just anyone to watch over your child. 

When searching for a good afterschool program, do your research to know what options are available near you and what they include. 

Public Schools and Private Schools

Talk to the school your child goes to first and see if they already have an afterschool program available. If they don't then you can see about petitioning to start one, or you could start one in your neighborhood. 

If your local public school doesn't have one then there's a chance the local private schools do and they might allow nonstudents to participate. 

Community Centers 

The next place that might have available afterschool programs is your local community center. Sometimes the community itself will have government-sponsored programs in place for kids. 

Other types of centers within the community might also offer them like the YMCA, YWCA, library, museums, and more. 

Organizations 

Sometimes you can find for-profit organizations that are designed solely as an afterschool program, club, or care center for students after the school day. These organizations might be found at daycares or other childcare places that can sometimes offer a youth program for after-school hours as well. 

How to Start an Afterschool Program

Not all areas have afterschool programs available or currently running. But you could potentially get one started! 

You could potentially start your own business by creating your own afterschool program or you could partner with other organizations to start one. You could even volunteer to help your local school district create one as a way to give back to your community

Step 1 | Make a Plan 

The first step to any endeavor is to sit down and make a plan. You'll need to do research, make plans, and reach out to potential program partners. 

Sit down and have a serious planning session with everyone involved in the program and program implementation process. This might include other parents who are interested, your child's teachers, school district faculty, or members of the community council or jurisdiction. 

Step 2 | Get the Funding 

Once you have everyone involved on board and on the same page it's time to start talking about money. You'll need to come up with a budget for the program. You'll also need to figure out where the funding for the program will come from. 

Will parents pay for their children's participation? Will the local government supplement the costs? Will you hold a fundraiser or charity event each year to sponsor the program? Will the school district fit the costs of the program into their own budget? 

Figure out where the money is coming from and make a budget for how all those funds will be used and who exactly will manage those expenses. 

Step 3 | Meet Requirements 

Whenever children and the care of children are involved there will be licenses, certifications, regulations, policies, and protocol to consider. Contact your local government office to ask what all you will need to get the program approved and running smoothly. 

Step 4 | Create a Curriculum 

All youth programs, whether they are for high school students or elementary school children, need to have adequate lesson plans for the year. Having a preset curriculum will help provide a structured schedule for all the kids. 

The kind of curriculum you plan will depend on the kind of afterschool program you want to run and the age level of the attendees. It can include school activities like extra classes, fun science experiments, tutoring, or homework help. Or it could include curricular activities like group games for better youth development. 

How long will the program be and what will everyone do during that time? 

On average, schools in the US finish their day at 3:00 PM. Some afterschool programs will then go until 6:00 PM because that is when working parents are more able to come to pick up their children after their workday. 

Here is an example of a simple afterschool schedule: 

Download a Free Afterschool Program Schedule PDF. 

Step 5 | Hire the Staff

Once you have all the preliminary plans in place, you'll need to select and hire the staff. Many full-time teachers will have already worked a full day and won't be available to stay after school. So there is a chance you'll need to hire part-time workers to work as tutors, mentors, and caretakers to the children who are a part of the afterschool program. 

Because these workers will be working with children, they will also need thorough background checks and job interviews to ensure they are the right fit for the children.

In Conclusion, 

Creating a successful and helpful afterschool program can be a lot of work but is a worthy endeavor that can enrich your community. Get involved at your local schools, for an afterschool alliance with other teachers and parents that care, and create something that can benefit your community's children and parents alike.