5 Steps to Finding the Right Afterschool Program for Your Child

5 Steps to Finding the Right Afterschool Program for Your Child

Girl_HAnds_painted-CC versionGet your child off to a great start this school year! As a Mom or Dad, you are already flooded with lots of back to school activities like parent’s night, career days, sports programs and homework review.  Now is a great time to plan ahead for a great afterschool program. An afterschool program can inspire your child, increase his/her confidence and build new skills. Mostly, it can be a fun and empowering experience! With many options such as art, music, theatre, magic and more to choose from, how do you choose the afterschool program that is right for your child?

Mary Rogers, MA.Ed, CEO of Abrakadoodle, has designed afterschool classes and programs that have been delivered to more than 1 million kids worldwide.  As an educator, she has some very definite views about what parents should look for in after school enrichment classes and activities.

Step 1: First and foremost, consider your child’s interests — Is she interested in music, drama or dance?  Does he like to dabble in paints or conduct science experiments?  What does your child like to do?  Gently nudge him/her towards options that might help that interest grow and develop.

Step 2: Investigate the various options that are available — Virtually anyone can offer a class or educational program, so it’s important to screen your program options.  If you are considering a class at your child’s school, there is a good chance that your school personnel have already pre-screened any program that is being offered. If a program has not been prescreened, here are some questions that you
should ask:

  1. What are the qualifications of the person or persons conducting the
    classes? The person teaching the program should be trained in the subject
  2. How much experience does the teacher have with children? Even if an
    instructor is skilled in an area such as mathematics, that doesn’t mean that
    he/she can work with kids.  Inquire about the instructor’s classroom experience with kids.
  3. What is the curriculum? You’ll want to know just what the kids will be
    learning, as well as the philosophy behind the program’s teaching methods and
    techniques. How extensive is the curriculum?
    Some programs have just a few lessons that repeat. Others have an
    extensive library of lessons, so that there are a rich variety of choices. Who
    designs the lessons?  Having an educator-backed curriculum is best.
  4. How is communication handled? How do you learn about schedule changes,
    class happenings as well as discuss any issues or questions you may have?
    Benefits from a quality after school program are magnified when learning is
    extended at home through a sharing of materials, ideas and session recaps.
  5. How is the program evaluated?  Do the program administrators seek parent and student feedback?  How has the program been previously rated?  You can increase your confidence in your child’s afterschool program selection by ensuring that it is well-reviewed by other parents and educators.
  6. What makes this program FUN? Remember this is not school – it’s afterschool.  If it seems like “school,” your child may not want to attend.  What makes this program special and really fun for kids? Afterschool can be a time when your child can open up to joyful new experiences.

Step 3: Narrow Your Choices – Pick a few program options that fit your child’s interests, your budget and can fit into your family’s busy schedule. Consider a balance of activities that helps round out your child.

Step 4: Involve Your Child in the Process — Talk about the options that are available.  Which one or two have the most appeal? What does your child like about the choices? Ask him/her to also consider expanding his/her horizons by trying
something new.  Would he/she like to invite a friend to participate as well?

Step 5: Success! Sign Up — Programs can fill up quickly so make sure that you submit the registration materials right away and make note of the class dates and times on your calendar!

©2011 Abrakadoodle, Inc.