When developing an afterschool program, there are many factors for an educator to consider. The age range of the kids involved, for example, will determine what activities are chosen. Ensuring that the content of a program is balanced between educational and recreational is another factor. Making sure the program’s length doesn’t run too late into the evening is a factor as well.
With all these considerations taken into account, what are some of the things that make an afterschool program successful? Education assistant training teaches you how to take an active role in the designing of afterschool activities for different age groups. Here’s a look at some characteristics that contribute to a great afterschool program.
Meet the Needs of Children and Families in the Community
Every group of children will have a unique set of desires and challenges based on what’s available to them in their neighborhoods and school districts.
If you’re hoping to design a program that addresses the needs of the local community, a little research will be required. An education assistant career can give you greater accessibility to parents and school board officials who can offer valuable insight into these needs. You can ask parents directly what they’re looking for in an afterschool program, or even send out brief email surveys to get a better understanding if a program should include art, sports, homework support, service-learning, or a number of other activities which may be beneficial.
By collaborating with the community, you open a dialogue that allows you direct insight into what’s lacking most and your program can even more directly and effectively address their needs.
Develop a Budget and Financial Plan
Inadequate financial planning is the major downfall of some otherwise terrific afterschool programs. Afterschool programs need to develop a basic operating budget, a functional bookkeeping system and realistic and affordable fee structures. If you’re designing a program that you hope will run long-term, it’s time to start considering funding sources.
Funding sources can include federal and provincial programs or community agencies as well as local education funds or even private investors. Here are a few helpful things to consider when creating your programs budget and financial plan:
- Find out how much parents are comfortable paying for their children’s involvement in the program
- Talk to local businesses about donations or supporting certain aspects of your program
- Find out about community and family foundations that offer grants
Hire Qualified, Engaging and Skilled Staff
Regardless of the targeted age group or the type of activities your program involves, children need to be around caring adults who directly engage them and address their social and emotional needs. Luckily, earning an education assistant diploma puts you in a career that surrounds you with such people.
Each program must consider a combination of volunteers and professionals that best meet the program’s needs, but one definite requirement is that all staff be experienced and trained to work with school-aged children.
What other factors do you think contribute to a successful afterschool program?