According to a Department of Justice Studies survey at Rhode Island College, afterschool programs are a critical factor in fighting delinquency, reducing dropout rates, and mitigating the chances for teen pregnancy.
To make your afterschool program successful, you have multiple options to boost student attendance, retention, and performance. Read on to learn more tips for running a successful afterschool program.
The success of an afterschool program rests on its teachers and staff. As you set up your program, you need to staff administrative roles, childcare roles, and service staff.
- Administrative - The secretary and other front-office workers are the face of your business. They are the first people parents see when they interact with your program. Administrative roles require interpersonal, technological, and organizational skills.
- Childcare - Your teachers may come from a range of backgrounds, including psychology, education, and childhood development. Determine the qualifications and skills your program needs. Also, consult state and local laws for licensing and accreditation requirements.
- Service Staff - You will need maintenance personnel to support daily operations. If you prefer, you can hire a third-party vendor, but research their employees to ensure the safety of your students. An in-house staff costs more upfront but can be an excellent long-term investment.
When you write your job descriptions, be detailed and include all required qualifications. Be sure to include only what you need to broaden or tightly target your candidate pool. Also, employ an intensive vetting process that includes background checks to ensure student safety.
Marketing and Fundraising
Marketing builds awareness of your program while fundraising helps you maintain operations. Marketing strategies include billboards, digital advertising, mail advertising, and asking local schools to help you spread the word.
Teachers and school administrators are often asked about before and afterschool care for working parents. Start as early as possible to maximize response for the beginning of the school year. Ask to place posters in the school office or to be included in the monthly newsletter.
Billboards catch the eyes of parents commuting to and from work. They may seem old-school, but billboard advertising still works. Digital advertising includes purchasing ads online and sending marketing emails. You can hire a third party for this activity to ensure you get the return on your advertising investment.
Build solid relationships with other businesses in the community as well as the families of students. All are stakeholders in the success of your program.
Fundraising is another critical component of a successful afterschool program. Partner with the school district’s PTA or PTO for fundraising opportunities if the school does not offer funding. Parent groups raise money for the school but can also raise awareness of your program.
Empower students to fundraise on your behalf. They can reach out through social media and provide peer-to-peer marketing efforts.
Afterschool management software can help power your fundraising, especially with pay-as-you-go models.
Nothing is more important to parents than the safety of their children. To that end, develop an effective check-in and check-out process so parents know whether their children have reached your facility and that only the right person can pick them up.
Providing an app is an efficient way to manage check-ins and check-outs without resorting to paper rosters or crowding around a computer terminal.
Teachers or other helpers can scan barcodes or or QR codes with a smartphone or tablet to easily manage drop-offs while automating attendance. For pick-ups, the same software provides the identity of those authorized to pick up the student as well as the names of those who may not.
Software also helps you keep track of medical alerts and emergency contacts. Automating the attendance process provides you with a view of student engagement over time.
Plan a solid curriculum that includes playtime, academic support, mentorship, and family engagement. Move smoothly between activities and vary the topics to keep students engaged. Listen to the children to determine what interests them the most and plan activities accordingly.
Children need activity after a long day of sitting at school. Allow a few minutes of open gym or playground time to get the fidgets out and let off steam. When planning activities, have the students alternate between physical and study activities to keep their brains engaged.
Provide academic support, including homework help and tutoring. Academic assistance and enrichment are at the core of any afterschool program. Set aside quiet spaces for kids to work and have staff members ready to answer questions. Hire bilingual staff as needed.
For mentorship, Big Brother Big Sister and Boy or Girl Scouts are excellent programs to partner with. Alternatively, offer in-house programs. Engage families in afterschool events after work, so the students and parents have a chance to make connections with other families in their community.
To determine your program's effectiveness, measure progress and outcomes. Use afterschool management software to gather and analyze data. Generate reports for various performance indicators and support accreditation.
Afterschool management software can play a huge role in developing and maintaining a successful afterschool program.
- Automate administrative tasks like registration, billing, and payment processing.
- Track attendance and participation , both for the program as a whole and for individual events.
- Use calendar-based enrollment to allow parents and students to select desired activities and pay for anything not included in tuition.
- Generate reports for real-time business decision-making, retaining accreditation, and monitoring cash flow.