Professional Development

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4 Ways to Bring Balance to Your Program

The afterschool space is more than just a safe place for students to wait for caregivers to pick them up. It's where you can challenge students and help them learn skills in multiple areas. As you work on improving and growing your program, consider the following areas as a framework for organizing your space and your curriculum to bring out the best in your afterschool students.


Afterschool programs can serve as an extension to the regular school day by offering programs that enrich the curriculum. This can be done through one-on-one and small-group tutorials, learning-focused centers, and well-chosen games and activities that support the existing curriculum.

In addition to curriculum-based activities, afterschool programs should offer ways for students to explore and discover new interests. Gardening, music, art, robotics and engineering work great in this aspect of the program. Independent research and peer presentations are two other ways students can discover new ideas and interests.

We all know that students need more exercise. Utilize your afterschool program as a platform to energize students and build healthy habits. Active play games, specialty classes (e.g., yoga and dance) and nutrition classes are all great ideas for energizing your students.

Allow your afterschool program to serve as a springboard for service-based learning. Encourage students to tackle schoolwide problems, such as bullying or school safety. Students can also engage in service-learning projects that help them connect to the community around them. Check with local agencies to see where there is a need in your community.

A balanced program will ensure that every child feels both excited and engaged in their afterschool experience, and it will keep them coming back for more!

About the author: Travis Williams is a member of the Kaplan Elementary team and has 15 years of experience as an elementary teacher and afterschool program director.

Content provided by Kaplan Early Learning Community.

Photo courtesy of Kaplan Early Learning Company.