If you have followed my YouTube channel for awhile, you have probably heard me gush over my after school program and my amazing students! Working with my students after school is one of my favorite parts of my week!
I write this on a Monday evening after working with my students. Each time we leave after school program, I am always left feeling that we never have enough time! I sometimes leave feeling frustrated that we didn’t get enough reading, math, or writing done. But then I remember the moments that make my heart smile. Like when they are drawing me flowers with sidewalk chalk, helping younger children, or building castles with blocks. These little moments are ones that we don’t experience often in public education. These little moments are so vital to a child’s development.
I wanted to create this program for many reasons. I wanted to create this program to spend more time with my students. I want to spend more time with my students so that my students know that I love them. I want them to know that I love them so that the feel safe. I want them to feel safe so that they can take risks, explore, and enjoy being children.
I wanted to create this program in THEIR neighborhood. I want us to meet where THEY live. I want to play outside on THEIR sidewalks. Too often, children feel that they don’t belong or are part of the community in their school. I want them to know that I value their community. I want my students to know that learning can happen at home. I also want them to know that I value their home, their families, and their neighborhood.
I can’t believe that it has been eight months since we started this program! It has been an amazing experience that I look forward to continuing. I have learned so much since I began this endeavor. I would like to share some of what I have learned.
- Finding a healthy snack (that they enjoy) is very important.
- They ALWAYS need supervision while painting! (I’m serious…never leave them alone with paint…)
- Find the right balance between work and play. Find it quickly so you don’t lose their interest.
- Create a routine and schedule…quickly…
- Teach rules and boundaries…quickly…
- Allow time for relaxation when they first arrive at the program.
- Give them as much love as you can!!