Update on Our After School Program
We are off to a great start with our neighborhood after school program! Meeting two days per week, we had an increasing number of children in the first two weeks, from 8 to 9 to 13 to 17. And at that level, I think we’re pretty close to our max, based on space and volunteers. (But Joanna has already had to point out, after I said “yes” to another child, that I have a hard time saying “no.”)
But we love the kids that we have coming. Some are from our neighborhood, and some we know from camps that we led last year. We are thankful for the partnership with Renewed Faith Ministries (who is letting us use their building) and with half-dozen volunteers that we have had so far.
What Do We Do?
We knew that we wanted to focus on helping students with their homework. The schools and other organizations are offering specific tutoring and remediation assistance, so we didn’t want to duplicate their efforts (and one reason we picked to meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays is that the school district’s after school programs meet on Mondays and Wednesdays).
Here’s an outline of the different components of our program:
- Snack and socialize. Time to unwind and get a little re-fueling.
- Outside activity. Inside of going straight into school work, we play outside for about 10 minutes to help the students get some energy out.
- Circle time. A chance to talk and listen. Plus I’ve been doing a brief devotion (from the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount).
- Reading. We used to go straight into homework, and leave reading for extra time. But taking a cue from our friends at the Frazee Center, we do pleasure reading for about 15 minutes. We want children to just learn to enjoy reading.
- Homework. As I said above, this is a central focus for our program.
- Activity. We may go outside, or play board games, or do arts and crafts, or something else.
And that’s it. Since the elementary students don’t arrive until at least 3:30, and since we are finished at 5:30, our time goes by quickly. But they are having fun (at least a couple have asked if we could do it everyday), and we are helping them grow socially and educationally.
Special Programs and Special People
We are incorporating other programs, to give the children a broad exposure. For example, an EFNEP representative will be doing a series on nutrition. She will help the children think through making healthier food choices, even as she prepares an extra snack for them.
Another friend (who also works through the local Clemson Extension office) will do a couple of lessons on proper eating etiquette. Then, on February 14, they will get to put this teaching into practice, as we will be taking the children and parents out to eat (probably to Beaufort) for a Valentine’s Day dinner. (Thankfully, due to donations, we will be able to treat the families.) Edit: You can read about our dinner in A Day of Love.
But what I really enjoy is seeing all the adults serving these children. We have volunteers from at least four different churches in our neighborhood. Some of them are meeting each other for the first time, and one just found out about the free exercise class at the church, and he may join.
We believe in the importance of relationships, and life happens best in the context of community. We are encouraged to see the formation and strengthening of relationships between kids and kids, adults and kids, and even adults and adults.
Some Photos of the Fun