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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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JUN
22

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool programs help Dad every weekday afternoon

By Lindsay Damiano

Father’s Day yesterday gave us all a special opportunity to tell our dads how important they are to us and how grateful we are for all they do. Dads often put in 110% for their kids, rushing to get them to school, to soccer practice, to Grandpa’s, to birthday parties… while also often working during the day. Afterschool programs give working parents peace of mind; our most recent America After 3PM survey found that 74 percent of parents agreed afterschool programs help them keep their jobs. A safe, engaging place for kids to go after school turns out to be a pretty great gift for Dad.

Unfortunately, not all parents are able to enroll their child in an afterschool program. Ten million kids participate in an afterschool program now, but the parents of another 19 million would enroll their child if there were a program available. That means that for every child able to participate, two more are waiting to get into a program. Dads and moms value these programs for keeping their kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and giving them peace of mind when they are at work.

Tell Congress that every parent deserves the benefits that universal afterschool access can provide. When parents across the country are putting in 110%, elected representatives should be giving their all to increase funding for afterschool. It supports working parents like the #1 Dad in your life.   

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JUN
19

RESEARCH
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Summer's Challenge

By Jodi Grant

This post originally appeared on MomsRising.org.

Every mother knows how much work it can be to figure out summer plans for our kids, mesh parents’ work schedules with children’s summer pursuits, and find fun, educational activities that keep our children active and constructively engaged when schools are out. What looks like freedom and vacation time to children requires a huge amount of preparation by moms.

For some families, summer destination or sleepaway camps, vacations or staycations fill some of those long periods when kids would otherwise be unsupervised during June, July and August, and they are often a great experience. But without summer learning programs run by school systems, Y’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, and afterschool programs that transform into summer programs, I’m not sure what we’d do. These programs make it possible for kids to be engaged in fun, safe, supervised, educational activities. Moreover, they help kids hit the ground running when school resumes in the fall, combating the “summer learning loss” that sometimes causes students to backslide on academics during the summer.

They do that by creating valuable opportunities for students to do all kinds of great things, including exploring a host of hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities that most classrooms can’t accommodate; learning to garden and to cook healthy meals; and supporting their communities through service projects large and small. At the same time, of course, summer learning programs help children become more fit and physically active through sports, games and outdoor activities.

I’m lucky to have summer learning programs available, but many families don’t. In my day job, I’m executive director of the Afterschool Alliance and our series of America After 3PM studies over the years has shown us a lot about how children spend their summers, as well as their afternoons during the school year.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Summer Learning
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JUN
18

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Ambassadors gear up for summer learning

By Lindsay Damiano

National Summer Learning Day is finally here, and Afterschool Ambassadors across the country have organized exciting and creative ways for their local communities to celebrate.

Ambassadors and Ambassadors Emeriti lead the way in providing afterschool programs to so many kids across the country, and that work doesn’t stop in the summer. National Summer Learning Day is an opportunity to celebrate summer learning and think about how we can get more kids into programs that keep them learning year-round to help close the achievement gap.

To celebrate National Summer Learning Day with STEM and adventure, families in Johnson County, Kansas will participate in “The Mid-Summer’s Night Cache.” This geocaching exploration will lead scavengers with a GPS device to the hidden caches and then to a fire pit with hot dogs, s’mores and summer learning resource materials.

Nearby, Gardner, Kansas L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Education and Development) campers helped the city get ready for the annual Festival on the Trails. In preparation for the festival with more than 11,000 expected visitors, campers helped set up festival structures and learned firsthand about all the planning and hours of work that make large-scale community events possible. L.E.A.D. campers and staff are pictured below preparing the sidewalk for the event.

Gardner, Kansas L.E.A.D. campers help get the community ready for a festival.

 

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learn more about: Afterschool Ambassadors Summer Learning
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JUN
18

STEM
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Digging into research with new resources & webinars!

By Melissa Ballard

We’re excited to announce the release of a new resource from our friends at the Research + Practice Collaboratory—the Connected Collection! Each collection synthesizes of-the-moment science education topics and comes with a bundle of research briefs that provide multiple cases, examples, and ongoing challenges for busy professionals to consider as they seek to improve learning environments for youth. The Connected Collection emerged from our work on the Relating Research to Practice project as a practical tool that out-of-school-time practitioners could use to help expand their own thinking, shape program structure and guide the professional development of staff.

What’s ready for you now:

 Coming up:

  1. Gender Equity
  2. Interest and Identity
  3. STEM Practices
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learn more about: Science
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JUN
17

RESEARCH
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Summer learning infographic: Summer learning matters!

By Nikki Yamashiro

Our new infographic—the fourth in our America After 3PM infographic series—is a simple and visually compelling way to share just-released America After 3PM findings. It reveals that participation in summer learning programs has increased over the past five years and that demand among parents for these programs is high. The infographic illustrates the learning loss that happens during the summer months and the re-teaching that takes place when the school year begins in the fall, the high demand for summer learning programs, and the value both parents and teachers see in summer learning programs to support student success. 

Help us spread the word that children and families need more summer learning opportunities! Post, tweet or pin any or all of our summer infographics that highlight why summer learning matters, that parents want summer learning opportunities for their children and the strong support that exists for summer learning programs

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learn more about: America After 3PM Summer Learning
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JUN
17

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  June 17, 2015

By Luci Manning

Program Guides Students Through Boat Building Using Academics (WPVI, Pennsylvania)  

Local middle school and high school students capped off their boat-building afterschool program by launching two handcrafted duck boats into the Delaware River last week. The SAILOR Program (Science and Art Innovative Learning on the River) uses traditional boat building and nautical education to advance proficiency in STEM subjects. Students worked with shipwright mentors and STEM instructors at the Independence Seaport Museum for 33 weeks to design and craft the boats. “It’s a really dynamic program where they build the boat, but by building the boat they’re really learning about STEM, and really hands-on and fun and engaging way,” organizer Jennifer Totora told WPVI.  

Roosevelt Students Enjoy Hands-on Ag Experience (Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Nebraska)  

Nearly 100 third, fourth and fifth graders recently had the chance to learn about how agriculture affects their daily lives through the inaugural 4-H Ag Literacy program. The students toured six stations at the research center focused on animals, soil science, how insects affect agriculture, careers and more. The Ag Literacy program fits well with the Roosevelt Elementary School summer extended day program’s goal to focus on math, writing, reading and science, according to Principal Jana Mason. “The students were excited and learned a lot,” she told the Star-Herald. “This is the first year with the extended day program, and the Ag Literacy provides more opportunities for the students to make real world connections.”  

Marco YMCA’s Wonder Girls Program Includes Growth in Surprising Ways (Naples Herald, Florida)  

“I learned that you need to accept who you are and how to make the right choices socially, like who your friends are, and how to eat right and surround yourself with good people that make you feel good about yourself.”  This is a testimonial from a young woman who participated in Wonder Girls, a 12-week afterschool program teaching middle school girls how to be healthier, inside and out, the Naples Herald reports.  Thanks to Wonder Girls, a partnership between the Greater Marco Family YMCA and Marco Island Charter Middle School, these young women gained self-confidence, insight into themselves and others and knowledge about healthy living. Organizers are so pleased with the success of the program that they’re offering it again in the fall and plan to launch a version for males, Wonder Boys, next spring. 

Baltimore Program Tackles Roots of Unrest (Voice of America News, Maryland) 

Promise Heights, an academic-community partnership, is using four public schools as hubs to deliver nurturing, wraparound services to students, families and their communities in West Baltimore. These community schools aim to mitigate the detrimental effects extreme poverty can have on kids and their parents through services like prenatal care, tutoring and parental counseling. Executive director Bronwyn Mayden says Promise Heights schools are suspending fewer students than their counterparts, gains she attributes in part to expanded learning days and afterschool programs. The partnership strives to create a supportive environment at school and home so as to improve impoverished students’ learning abilities. “We work with those social-emotional factors… so their little brains are ready to receive the instruction that their educators are giving them,” social worker Henriette Taylor told Voice of America News.

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Science Community Partners
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JUN
16

POLICY
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FY16 education spending bill released in House, would impact children and families

By Erik Peterson

The House Appropriations Committee today released a draft fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill, which will be debated and voted on at the subcommittee level tomorrow, June 17th. The draft bill cuts discretionary funding for the Department of Education by $2.8 billion compared to fiscal year 2015 levels (and $6.4 billion below the President’s budget request) but appears to keep 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) level with last year’s funding at $1.15 billion. However, there is significant concern with the bill, as it makes deep cuts to many programs that support children and working families.

The legislation, summarized here by the House Appropriations Committee, includes funding for programs within the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The bill eliminates at least 19 education programs, including:

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JUN
16

STEM
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Guest blog: WGBH's new afterschool & summer camp guides for environmental science

By Anita Krishnamurthi

Marisa Wolsky is an Executive Producer at WGBH Educational Foundation with over 20 years of experience producing entertaining and educational media for kids. She is an Executive Producer for the new environmental science series PLUM LANDING, the engineering series Design Squad, and the preschool science and math series PEEP and the Big Wide World, all funded by NSF. Prior to this, she worked on the development and production of many children’s series, including Long Ago & Far AwayWhere in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?Arthurand ZOOM.

Over the past 20 years, the staff at WGBH, Boston’s PBS television station, have developed both a breadth and depth of experience bringing STEM subjects to life for kids, while providing informal educators (many of whom don’t have a STEM background) approaches for leading hands-on activities with kids in afterschool settings. Kids attending afterschool programs nationwide with Girls Inc., Girl Scouts USA, the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs affiliates, and more have explored STEM with WGBH in a variety of ways—they’ve learned how to be scientifically curious with an inquisitive monkey named George, conducted real science experiments given by an unreal dog named Ruff Ruffman, and used Design Squad to dispel the stereotype of the nerdy engineer who sits at his desk all day and replaced it with thinking, “That’s engineering? I didn’t know that! I want to do that.”

WGBH’s newest project, PLUM LANDING, is an exciting PBS KIDS environmental science initiative that helps kids develop a love for, and a connection to, this amazing planet we call home.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Guest Blog Science
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