An after school program is a flexible child care option for families, but that doesn’t mean it should be all flexible free play for the kids. Having a schedule for the after school hours gives the kids some structure in the program. You are able to offer a balanced program that is enriching and educational. Here are some tips for developing a schedule that works for your after school program.
Before you set your schedule, take some time to consider your program goals. What do you want the kids to get from the program? What do you want them to do? What type of activities do you see doing? Do you want lots of structure or more free time? Thinking about how you want the program to look will help you set a schedule for the time.
Look at the total amount of time you have for the program. This helps you allocate time to different activities. If you have three hours total, you are better able to divvy up that time to different activities. Keep in mind that students will likely leave at different times throughout the program, but you should have a schedule for the entire time for the students who will stay.
Identify the activities that are your priority for the program. Plan those activities toward the beginning of the after school program when you’ll have the most participants. For example, if you plan to have a daily group activity, schedule that time block for early in the session before students start getting picked up.
The transition when students first arrive is a key time to consider. They’ve spent the entire day in the classroom. The kids are likely hungry. Plan your snack for the beginning of the after school program. They also need to move after being in their seats so long. Schedule a block of active time toward the beginning of the program. Then you can fill in with other activities.
So what should you include in your after school program schedule? That’s a matter of personal preference while keeping in mind the program goals. Here are some possible components to include in your after school program schedule:
- homework time
- group activities
- learning or activity centers
- free play
Create a balance in the schedule so the kids get a variety of activities during the after school program.