Worth noting the fact that children are meant to grow in societal systems. David Kirp, in his article published at Afterschool Alliance, says that they have to be exposed to a variety of settings, such as the home setup, the classroom, their friends as well as the community to learn the critical skills of becoming conscientious citizens.
Confining learning to a specific setting or time will be limiting students from exploring important lifelong skills. It is because almost 80% of students’ time is spent outside the classroom. Thus, many learners, especially those from low-income families that face many challenges, miss out greatly on the learning opportunities that occur outside school.
Hence, there has to be an approach that seeks to build on the students’ interests, introduces them to their new passions, and avails mentors and relevant peer networks while linking their engagements to academics and career. Afterschool programs play this role well.
Through connected learning, afterschool programs, as designed to explore students’ interests further, unite them with friends and peers with whom they share curiosities and aspirations, and most importantly, they enrich each other academically. To encourage involvement in the learning process, connected learning is based on the interests of young people and their networks and combines it with the lessons they learned at school or beyond. When utilized well, afterschool programs are enriching young people with educational capabilities that can help them attain their full-life potentials.
Why Afterschool Programs?
The ERIC article on the positive outcomes of afterschool programs points out that the major reason why these programs are created is based on the opinion that young people will benefit by growing both personally and socially when they take part in organized activities.
Research shows that students in the USA become less engaged in school as they move from grade to grade. It calls for a learning approach that addresses the growing disengagement in education. Connected learning tackles this through its various afterschool programs that allow young people to participate in extracurricular activities as they explore new ways of gaining skills and knowledge in a continuously-evolving digital world.
Connected learning enables learners to engage in hands-on activities that are directly related to their interests as they also connect with those with whom they share life interests and hobbies. The interests, activities, and interactions are interconnected to their academics, thus, building in students vital workplace skills that are meaningful and critical as they grow up to become responsible citizens in the long run.
Afterschool programs focus majorly on three powerful drives of learning: the students’ interests, their peers, and mentors. By tapping into learners’ interests and social networks, more opportunities for young people to take part in learning at any moment are creating. These programs ensure that there is continued learning even outside the classroom and that students’ mind is not turned off after they are done with the last school day.
They make good use of the many hours that students spend outside school to leverage the various aspects of their lives. By connecting their learning to the community and what they like, more and more young people take part in education. Thus, it makes them lifelong learners.
Why afterschool programs then?
- Afterschool programs are geared towards making sure that young people take advantage of the abundance of learning opportunities within and outside school so they can thrive in their future endeavors. The programs are also designed to ensure the creation of environments that keep young people excited and engaged in learning.
- Afterschool programs give learners the opportunities to engage in hands-on learning experiences and help them understand how the lessons they learn in the process are related to their lives.
- Afterschool programs are a vital component that is required to bridge the separate parts that exist in the classroom set up learning. It brings on board additional learning opportunities, gives students the chance to interact with caring mentors as well as the access to resources and peer networks that will make them excited about acquiring knowledge.
- Afterschool programs are flexible enough, allowing students to use their time out of school to connect to their life passions and desires while building on their school curriculum lessons at the same time.
As opposed to classroom learning where students have to be glued and confined in a specific place, spending a significant amount of time on assignment writing, afterschool programs enable learning everywhere. It empowers students to be involved in learning opportunities both in and out of their school environment.
The ability to integrate their interests and peer networks into their future endeavors makes learning more relevant and interesting to the young people. Therefore, they can take advantage of the various afterschool programs to do what they like to together with their friends while improving their academic performance at the same time.