In today’s world, parents want quality aftercare for their children, children need quality extended learning to succeed, and schools have to respond.
A recent study by the Afterschool Alliance included two salient facts in its findings. First, only 8.4 million K-12 children (15 percent) participate in afterschool programs. An additional 18.5 million would participate if a quality program were available in their community. Secondly, more than 15 million school-age children (26 percent) are on their own after school. Among them are more than 1 million in grades K through 5.
Now more than ever, administrators have a full plate in dealing with test scores, teachers, parents, and making sure that students are getting the quality education they deserve. Before & After care does not lie at the core of administrators’ concerns, but it is one more thing they need to manage.
With this in mind, Learn It began developing its afterschool program in 2011 to serve parents, students and school looking for a fresh approach to aftercare. The process began with a review of expert findings from the last decade and a half of academic research. The academic findings were then informed by sitting down with parents, teachers, principals, and superintendents to gain insights into their expectations and learn what they viewed as the perfect afterschool environment. In essence, the parents, teachers, principals and superintendents asked for four things:
- to truly extend the learning day
- to make certain the program was structured
- to assure homework completion
- to design a program that included activity-based learning.
Learn It’s Before & After programs incorporate all of these features.
In the Learn It program, the first 45 minutes is structured homework time. Students are guided and helped through their homework. Instructors make sure it gets done. And there is an actual homework contract that the parent signs with the students.
With the growth in the workforce of women with school-age children and given recent economic challenges that have led to longer hours for some and the need to take on a second job for others, quality time with the family is at a premium. So, a program that offers homework help is a real plus for parents.
Activity Based Learning
Once the 45-minute homework session is over, students take part in one of two activity-based programs — the Young Scientists program or World Explorers, a world studies program. These rotate monthly. The science program conveys the basics of science in a variety of areas, including plant life, the human body, and space. The world studies program enables students to experience the culture, dance, art, food, and music of various countries around the world. Students also get involved in poster-making, visual presentations, and art activities related to the country of the month.
Learn It believes that by creating a Before & After program that not only extends the learning day but also promotes student creativity, experimentation and practice.
The last 45 minutes of the program is free learning. They can choose from a variety of ways to spend the balance of their afternoon, including Legos, group activities, physical activity, and Learn It’s electronic, interactive Jeopardy game that can be uploaded with any kind of curriculum that’s relevant to what students are being taught during the school day.
Learn It’s afterschool programs meet the important criteria of extending the learning day, adding structure to afterschool care, facilitating homework completion, and utilizing activity-based learning. Read more about the program in the Bridges magazine article, “Rethinking Extended Day” that features Learn It’s success with a school in Michigan.