Last year I wrote a blog titled "What's Afterschool Reading this Summer?" That's what I intended to do before I got sidetracked reflecting on a recent change in my reading habits. Four times a year the National AfterSchool Association publishes AfterSchool Today, a magazine written by and for the afterschool field.
The Three Little Pigs: A classic fairy tale, or a fun way to introduce structural engineering? The Very Hungry Caterpillar: A cute story about caterpillar obesity, or a platform to launch a topic on moving, growing insects and life cycles? Incorporating literacy into STEM activities or vice versa is a great way to promote abstract and creative thinking. Literacy can provide motivation for young people who are not immediately drawn to STEM subjects, and it can provide easy pathways to STEM for staff who might be intimidated by math and science.
As Director of Staff Development at the Leadership Program, I spend a lot of time both preparing and implementing training or coaching others on effective facilitation. There is no recipe or shortcut that instantaneously makes you an expert facilitator.
"No more classrooms, no more books, no more ..." Waaaait a minute. No more books? As children, reading was one of our favorite summer activities—but we know that's not the case for many kids, especially when they are outside of school.
In my role at the National AfterSchool Association, one of my key responsibilities is to plan professional development. So I think about professional development A LOT, which is why a recent EdSurge article, "Why Good Professional Development Is Crucially Linked to an Educator's Attitude," by Glenda I. Lozada Negron, caught my attention.
Students who participate in extracurricular activities develop fundamental tools to provide and maintain critical thinking skills. Research suggests that the application of creative, abstract and imaginary expression through an aesthetic vehicle is needed to foster academic motivation, development and stability that will contribute to a child's fulfillment and security for a lifetime.
Family engagement has a life-long impact on the lives of children and comes in many forms. As professionals in the field of afterschool and expanded learning, it is important to remember that even though we may not see a child's family at school or a program, this does not mean they are not engaged in the lives of their children.