Using S.A.F.E. for After School Programs


The Afterschool Alliance just released a report on after school programs. If you’re looking for funding, or reasons to begin/expand your programs this will help! (Bryce Don’t Play also covered this topic if you’re looking for more ideas.)

Reasons to begin/expand program (you can quote this stuff in your grant writing or budget increase requests!):

  • The demand for after school programs is great–8.4 million children are currently in an after school program, but the parents of more than 18 million children would enroll them in a program if one were available to them.
  • Quality after school programs help children become more engaged in school, reduce their likelihood of taking part in at-risk behaviors or acting out in school, and help raise their academic performance.
  • Positive after school program staff-student relationships create an environment in which students feel safe and supported, fostering student growth socially, emotionally and academically.
  • Positive relationships between program staff and program participants have shown to improve students’ academic performance and engagement in school, as well as lead to higher educational and future aspirations.
  • High quality programs often have an open dialogue with students and take an interest in their lives. (I include share time in my book clubs.)
  • (The report also has lots of information about staffing if that’s a concern to you.)

I love this report for all its information we can use and gain from! I also like how it’s adaptable to a school or public library environment. Just because we public librarians don’t have to worry about curriculum per se, we should still have an identifiable objective for the children. Don’t fret! It doesn’t mean that our after school programs cannot still be FUN! Of course, one of our main objectives is to make reading and learning fun. See what I mean:

How to improve your programs using S.A.F.E. Here’s how my programs stack up:

  • Sequenced activities allowing children to master a specific set of skills:
    I’ve had lots of success with doing programs that last 4-8 weeks. (Check out my link for ideas.) We’ll meet every Monday or Friday after school for a month or two and focus on a series of books, a theme, or an author study. All reading, activities, crafts, and games will center around a thread or idea. Essentially we’re building a set of skills to learn about a topic each week. Though, I make sure to have some flexibility in case a child is sick and misses a session, or weather causes a program to be cancelled. By the end of the program the children will learn about a series, theme or author and be able to compare and contrast other books to what we’ve learned. I am always clear with stating, “By the end of this series you will be able to …”
  • Active learning through hands-on activities:
    I always offer a craft, group activity or game. Sometimes we work alone, and sometimes we work in pairs, and others we work in teams by table.
  • Focus on appropriate amounts of instruction time:
    I always start out on the floor together while we chat about the topic. I’ll read a book or excerpt and discuss. Then I talk about what we’ll be doing today. I go over the instructions, take questions, and then we move to tables for crafts, activities and / or games.
  • Explicit goals communicated to the children:
    The best tip I learned during my short teaching stint was to have an objective for the children. I used to have to write an objective for every single class I taught. It must have become engrained in me, because I still state an objective in each program I run. It’s simple and you can do this. Just say, “By the end of this hour you will be able to …”

So, I’m stacking up pretty well! How about you?

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