A high-quality afterschool program provides a healthy environment and a range of enriching activities. The following are characteristics of high-quality afterschool programs that support positive developmental outcomes.
A Healthy and Safe Environment
Before leaving your child in any afterschool program, ensure that the program is safe and healthy. This includes considerations such as meals, sanitary bathrooms, safe equipment and indoor and outdoor spaces.
A Stimulating Environment and Opportunities to Practice Emerging Skills
It is important for your child to have many opportunities to practice and hone skills. Hands-on experiential learning activities are effective ways to deepen children’s learning and connect to the real-world experiences.
Welcomes and Includes Families
As a parent you should feel welcomed any time you visit your child’s afterschool program. There should be opportunities for you to be involved with the program’s activities.
Welcomes Child Input
High-quality programs allow for children’s voices to be heard when building various aspects of the program and also provide children with many choices in their afterschool experience.
Trained and Qualified staff
The program should have trained and qualified staff to work with school-age children. This is critical to ensure that the staff can recognize and provide for the wide array of children’s developmental and educational needs.
- Characteristics: Think about the type of afterschool program that would best serve your child and family’s needs, such as hours, activities offered, etc.
- Search for programs that meet your needs: Contact a BrightStars referral specialist at 1-855-398-7605 or search online.
- Check out the Afterschool Program Map: Visit www.afterschoolri.org
- Narrow your search: Once you have a list of afterschool programs narrow your search by contacting the programs and asking questions to make sure they meet your needs.
- Visit the programs: After you have narrowed your list, schedule appointments to visit the programs and bring your child with you. Seeing a site in person and asking questions can be crucial to help you make the correct decision. Use the BrightStars Afterschool Site Visit Checklist as a guide as you visit programs.
Summer learning programs are important to a child’s year-round learning experience. The reason is simple: Most children, regardless of socioeconomic status, lose up to two months of grade-level equivalency in math if they spend their summers not engaged in any form of learning. Low income children also experience a loss in reading achievement.
The Summer Slide
Summer learning programs are designed to help offset the “summer slide” that occurs when children are not engaged in active learning opportunities.
Access Your Community
High-quality summer learning programs often take advantage of the treasures of their community (e.g., parks libraries, rivers, and streams) well, allowing for further exciting opportunities.
What You Can Do
Even if you aren’t able to access a summer learning program for your child, you can still play a big part in your child’s learning over the summertime. Fun trips to the beach, the museum, the local market, or the library can not only help build language and simple math skills, but also support important skills like communication and creative thinking.
The Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance (RIASPA) maintains a summer learning map that contains over 150 summer learning programs occurring across the state: www.afterschoolri.org.