It’s not uncommon for schools to see after-school hours as they did 30 years ago — as a time for children to have a snack, play outside and get started on their homework. Yet the amount of time students spend in after-school programs is significant, and as such, a highly significant part of an independent school’s program offerings.
See a feature article on this topic, "Extending the Day, Extending the Brand" from the March/April 2019 issue.
“If a child is enrolled in an after-school program full-time, from preschool through middle school, that child will spend more than 5,400 hours with the members of the after-school team. That's equivalent to four full years of school, which is a lot of homework and graham crackers,” said Page Fahrig-Pendse, associate head of school at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, in a recent NBOA webinar.
What can schools do to ensure that those after-school hours spent on campus are meaningful and worthwhile?
In recent years, GFS has begun looking at after-school hours differently. The program needs to be “continuously upgraded” to connect with the learning that happens during the school day, said Betsy Neiva, director of auxiliary programming. Neiva and Fahrig-Pendse offered these tips for those seeking to improve after-school programming.
Parents and students need to know how great the program is. GFS lets them know by taking photos each day and showing them on a big plasma screen centrally located at the school. Student’s projects are exhibited in public space. GFS posts any information about the program on a visible bulletin board designated for communication. “Parents will know what their kids have been up to. In addition to that, [it gets] the kids excited about what will be coming next,” Neiva said. They also put up flyers about special projects and promote the special programming on conference days and other in-service days and, of course, they post on social media.
All these innovations add value in the admissions process, Fahrig-Pendse said. “A special bulletin board was created to be a stop on the admissions tours. A vibrant after-school program can be a strong differentiator to parents who need after-school coverage.”
The advancement office, too, is excited about robust after-school programs. “A strong and distinctive after-school program that reflects our mission can be a great talking point for the advancement team members when they meet with these donors,” Fahrig-Pendse said.
For more information and access to the presentation, NBOA members can visit the webinar archive. #auxiliary#Leadership
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