Students see the after school program staff every day. Outside sources can help mix things up a little bit and enrich the program for the students. Look for volunteers or special guest speakers to infuse new life into the program.
One way to use volunteers or speakers is to support the activities you have planned for the after school program. Look ahead at the themes or activities coming up in the program. Think about how an outside source could enrich those activities. If you’re planning several animal activities you might check with a local zoo or animal shelter to see if they have community outreach programs. They might bring in an animal and talk to the students about their programs, for example. This approach is very similar to how a teacher might use guest speakers in the classroom to enhance the curriculum.
Another option is for volunteers to work with smaller groups of kids on specific interests. If you have a group of kids who want to learn to sew, you might find someone in the community who is talented in that area. That person can work with the group of interested students to teach them the basics of sewing. This works with almost any area of interest. When students show an interest in something, nurture that with outside sources.
You may have some students in your program who are considered “at-risk”. Or you may have students who are just struggling a little bit in school. It can be difficult to give every child in the after school program enough individualized attention. By using volunteers in the program, you have more adults to deliver more one-on-one attention.
If possible, find volunteers who can commit to coming to the program regularly. This allows you to assign the volunteers as mentors to particular students. The kids start to build a bond with their mentors to make the relationship more effective. The mentors and students might work on homework together, do activities together or just talk.