With the start of the school year just a couple weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about what our children will do after school. The increase in the number of working parents it has made it paramount that school age children have access to high quality programs to explore, learn and develop after school.  Some research suggests that what students do during the out-of-school time hours has as much bearing on their success as what they do during the school day.

“Quality” is a term that seems tossed around quite a bit to describe what care for our children should be. But what is quality care (source)?

Wonders defines our extended day programs as quality programs because we:

  • Foster positive relationships between children and staff
  • Build positive and new relationships among the children
  • Hire  highly educated and highly paid staff
  • Nurture and develop  highly educated program directors
  • Have low staff turnover
  • Consistently have smaller group sizes for activities and lower staff/child ratios than licensing standards
  • Foster good connections with schools such as understanding of school objectives, and good relationships with principals and teachers
  • Continuous program evaluation of progress and effectiveness with Staff Development Training (bi-annually)

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Quality  extended day programs have been found to help students academically and socially as well as expand students’ exposure to new activities.  But the benefits of programs like ours aren’t limited to our children. According to the National After School Association  quality programs benefit everyone in a community:

  • Working parents are assured their children are safe after school and miss less work so employers benefit from a more productive work force with less absenteeism.
  • Communities are safer and have lower youth crime rates when children are engaged in quality after school programs.
  • Children who participate regularly in quality programs have better grades and attendance in school than their peers who do not.

After school programs further benefit children and families by providing a supportive and often lasting relationship with caring adults. For many children and families, the relationship with an after school program or provider endures from preschool through elementary to middle school and beyond. (source)

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In order for children and youth to succeed and sustain a positive and healthy course through adolescence and even adulthood, they need support across a range of developmental outcomes. These five areas can be summarized as cognitive-academic, vocational, physical, social-emotional, and civic-cultural development. Extended day programs can be one of the important contributing settings to providing the essential experiences and relationships in these areas that keep children on a positive path.

Wonders especially believes that a child should have well rounded experiences outside of a traditional class room setting. Our curriculum,in both our early learning and extended day, focuses on social-emotional learning. We carefully create an environment that reflects not only the cultures of the families we serve but the world around us. We believe this validates children’s experiences, teaches the importance of valuing similarities and differences and builds the connection between home and school. Guiding children to accept and respect individual differences is an integral part of our program. We provide an inclusive learning environment through an engaging curriculum, service learning and by promoting respectful relationships.

What are your thoughts on what makes a quality extended day program?

 

 

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