Creating a thriving After-School program means we look beyond the externals—beyond academics, beyond behavior control, and beyond maintaining attendance. Going below the surface will keep your finger on the pulse of your site’s culture and your children’s actual experience within your facility. Everything bubbles up from the core values of each individual within the site.
How we interact with every single child matters—whether with family, friends, or within an organization. When we get down to that level, we come to the heart, the source of all interactions and behaviors. We cover this in more detail in the Meeting the Developmental Needs of Children and Youth workshop.
Getting Beyond Test Scores:
Here are 3 areas to help you get started now:
Identify a child’s natural talents
Notice what comes easy for them, where they shine. It might be academics, but it might be art, or language learning, mechanics, or something else. Notice the interest levels and engagement. That’s what they love, and that’s where you will fan the flame.
Thomas Edison was labeled a slow learner because he was restless, when in fact his active mind went far beyond the chalkboard. Self-confidence and self-acceptance are key to a child’s achievement. Edison’s mother, a teacher, encouraged him and supported him. He had the self-confidence to let his imagination soar, and he changed the course of history.
Turn ‘negatives’ into positives.
With every strength comes a shadow side, depending on how someone uses their ability. Is a child argumentative? Politicians and lawyers see this as a gift. Is a child quick to defend a friend or sibling? Negotiation and social reform could be their destiny. Instead of squelching a leader to stay in control, how about directing those gifts so they can experience what it means to make a positive contribution with warm feedback all around? With clear understanding and firm intention, we can shift the way these children view their own talents and abilities and the place in the world.
How each of us relates to every child we come in contact with has an effect on how they identify themselves. If we spark the light within them, a child will feel inspired to reach for more and better things, to put themselves out there, and to savor the taste of achievement. That’s the heart of your After-School program.
For more on this topic, Click Here to see our training program on Meeting the Developmental Needs of Children and Youth workshop.