Taking a Deeper Dive into Afterschool

  Research and evaluation .

Research and evaluation are critical to understanding, improving and growing a policy, a program or an organization. Federal, state and local government; as well as foundations and other public and private sector funding agencies are increasingly asking for this information that will give them greater insight into outcomes and the impact of their investment.
Afterschool Alliance understands the importance of research and evaluation in the afterschool field and “Taking a Deeper Dive into Afterschool: Positive Outcomes and Promising Practices” synthesizes the findings of research covering hundreds of afterschool programs. The report highlights the positive results of these programs on the students who participate in them and outlines the promising practices associated with quality programs.
The report is divided into three sections: the first section reviews evaluations that assess outcomes of students who participate in afterschool programs, the second section presents a summary of promising practices of afterschool programs based on a synthesis of existing research, and the third section provides detailed examples of afterschool programs implementing each promising practice.

Outcomes reviewed in the first section are:
    1. 1. School engagement, including attendance and likelihood of staying in school;
    2. 2. Student behavior, including participation in at-risk behaviors, such as criminal activity, gang involvement, drug and alcohol use, or sexual activity; and
    3. 3. Academic performance, including test scores, grades, graduation rates and college enrollment.

The first section includes evaluations of programs from across the country. From LA’s BEST in California, to Higher Achievement in the Washington, D.C., metro area, these afterschool programs demonstrate the numerous positive benefits associated with participation in afterschool, such as missing fewer days of school, decreased disciplinary incidents, gains in academic performance, and increased likelihood of being promoted to the next grade and graduating from high school.
The second section focuses on determining why afterschool programs have a positive impact on children, looking at the following promising practices of effective programs:
  • •Intentional programming/strong program design, which includes identifying and targeting specific goals and outcomes, providing variation in activities and using engaging programming to encourage regular attendance;
  • •Staff quality, which includes staff ability to connect positively with children, the program’s professional development efforts and staff experience;
  • •Effective partnerships with schools, community organizations and families; and
  • •Rigorous program evaluation and ongoing program improvement.

Also included in the report are detailed examples of promising practices in action. For example, the AfterZone in Providence, Rhode Island, is a citywide afterschool initiative that leverages community partnerships. The program is offered at multiple community facilities within a specified area, allowing students to take part in afterschool activities located at the “anchor” middle school or at libraries, art centers, museums and other community organizations. There are more than 70 community-based organizations that offer students access to free programs that range from building solar-powered go-carts to learning how to play the guitar.

Kids’ Summer Enrichment Camps are Hot

Summer enrichment program are becoming some of the most popular camps for kids who are looking for unique learning opportunities. Whether it’s sleep away or day camp, many kids are enrolling in enrichment camps that allow them to learn something new, discover a hidden talent or tap into their creative side.
Children can seek creative or academic opportunities for their summer camp experience that range from dancing, cooking and painting to writing, learning a language or doing science experiments. There are many options, beyond traditional nature camps, that allow kids to explore or experience something new while having a great time.
Enrichment camps typically take on an approach to learning that’s different from school. Their interactive, engaging and energetic style keeps kids interested. In addition, they abide by the philosophy that discovery and learning must always be fun!
Enrichment camps let children learn and experiment with something new which can be stimulating and beneficial. Even better– camps that keep kids’ brains active can contribute to their success in the coming school year.

Youth Art Month: Spark Your Child’s Creativity

March is Youth Art Month in the United States, a time to promote the value of art education for all children and to encourage support for quality school art programs.  We believe that art should be an important and valued part of the lives of young people.  Art and creativity promote problem solving, encourage children to try new things, use their imaginations and overcome their inhibitions or obstacles in order to grow and learn.
Here are some ways to encourage your child to be creative through art:

Art Workspace
Create a physical work space for your child’s art activities. Have art materials and simple household items available in a workspace area where your child can relax with the art activity of their choice anytime.

Art Supplies
Creative supplies don’t all have to be store bought!  Common items like beads, buttons, cotton balls, boxes and old magazines can be great counterparts to crayons, markers and paint.  Before you throw away or recycle items or containers, consider them for the art supply box!

Art Exploration
Help your child discover their passions and talents.  Some love to paint, some like to sketch and others may want to mold their creation.  Children who enjoy an activity are more likely to keep doing it.

Art Show and Tell
Celebrate your children’s creativity by displaying and discussing what they create.  Cover the refrigerator or frame and hang up pieces that your child is most proud of.  Encourage children to talk about the story behind their painting or drawing and artistic choices they made.

If your child needs some encouragement and suggestions when it comes to creativity, work together to in come up with ideas regarding what gets them excited.  Help your child find the fun in art and his/her imagination!

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