Only a Few Kids?
Sometimes I feel bad that we only average 45-50 kids a day, or that we only have 70 members signed up, for our after school program. That may seem like a lot, but when we started the program in January, we had over 100 signed up and averaged 75 -80 children per day. Even later in the spring, we still had 55-60 for our average daily attendance.
Is it bad that we have fewer kids? I wonder if we are doing something wrong.
Why Do We Have Only a Few Kids?
Going into this school year, we set a maximum limit for the number of kids that we wanted to have. Having 70 or 80 children is nice in that more kids get to be a part of the Club. The problem is that that many kids is pure chaos, especially with only handful of leaders. As you increase the child-to-leader ratio, you decrease safety, effectiveness, and the possibility for a meaningful experience.
Additionally, some children who come for a while quickly figure out that the our program is not for them. Perfect behavior and attitudes are not a requirement for Club attendance, or else we would have zero members (and leaders, for that matter). But we do communicate our expectations, and that it’s not a “do whatever you want” babysitting program. We do not kick out any child, but the ones that repeatedly refuse to conform tend to decide to stay home.
Do We Really Only Have a “Few” Kids?
But even when I look at the raw number of 50 kids, I realize that it’s not really “just a few.”
For the age groups that we work with, there are about 1200 (at most) kids in the entire county. So, we have about 5% of them, including those involved in other after school activities and sports. Think, what if 1 out of 20 kids in your school were a part one specific program? Now multiply that by all the schools within 15-20 miles of your school, or all the schools in the entire county.
OK, so 50 isn’t really so small, considering the size of the Allendale County School District.
And don’t get me wrong. I love the 50 that we have (even though I don’t always like them all!). Some have become close friends to our kids. And we are anxious to see success in their lives 5, 10, and 20 years down the road.