An after school program with kids in different grades can be difficult to manage. Clubs based on common interests within the program can be a solution for keeping all of the kids happy.
Why have clubs? In the average after school program, you have every elementary grade level in one program. This means your students will have different abilities and interests. It is possible to plan activities that work for all different grade levels, but another option is to take a club approach. Each child can choose to join a club that focuses on his particular interests.
The clubs you create for the after school program should reflect real interests that the kids have or they won’t be too excited about participating. Pay attention to what the kids talk about or what types of activities they gravitate toward. Talk to the kids to see what type of topics they would like to explore more. You don’t need to do a club for every interest, but choose several different clubs based on popular interests. Here are some ideas:
- knitting, crocheting or sewing
Once you decide on the clubs you want to have, you need to decide how you will organize them within the after school program structure. The clubs don’t have to meet every day. Once or twice a week may be enough, but you can leave that up to the students involved. If you have a structured schedule for the after school time, decide when the kids will be allowed to meet as a club.
You also need to think about how the clubs will run. Will the students be in charge of organizing the time and planning the activities? Will each group have a staff adviser to help with the operation? Will you plan activities for them to do? Having an organizational system reduces bickering and allows the kids to use their time more efficiently.
You can make the clubs more successful for the kids with a little help. Find a local expert in the subject area to volunteer some time to mentor the kids. You might have someone come show the kids how to knit for the knitting club, for example.
Let the students showcase what they do in their clubs. You might let the kids share a project they’re working on with the rest of the kids, for example. Or host an after-hours open house where each club sets up a display and explains what they do to their parents.