Background.Thirty years of research shows the difference family involvement makes in children's learning. Family involvement in after-school programs is just as important. The success of an after-school program depends on both family and community involvement. Many after-school programs depend on and draw upon parent and community volunteers. Research shows that when families are involved in schools, students do better. We can also expect that family and community members with an investment, however large or small, in a school-based after-school program will tend to be more interested and involved in their own children's learning, in the learning of all children in the program, and in the life of the school as a whole.
How to integrate parent involvement into after-school programs.To help meet our national education goals, parents must be involved in their children?s learning both during and after school. Family involvement is very much in line with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program?s goals of providing a variety of academic and enrichment activities to students and parents in the communities which they serve. Examples of how your Center can help include:
Involving families in program planning. Programs designed to include families and children in the planning draw greater support from participants and their families and from the community at large. These programs also tend to be more fun, culturally relevant, and linked to activities that capture children's and adolescents' interests. Successful programs seek to involve parents in orientation sessions, workshops, volunteer opportunities, parent advisory committees, and, as possible, in a wide range of adult learning opportunities, such as parenting education, computer training, and English as a Second Language.
Attending to the needs of working parents.Good programs are aware that their customers are not only the children they serve, but their families, as well. In doing so, programs are designed that are sensitive to the schedules and requirements of working parents.
Accommodating family schedules.Not only are activities scheduled during after-school hours, but activities are also scheduled for the morning hours before school, when many parents are either commuting to work or already at the workplace. In addition, learning, enrichment, and recreation activities are developed for operation during school holidays and summer breaks for the children of working parents and others.
Making after-school programs affordable.Cost is an important factor for working families. Good programs make accommodations for the likelihood of enrolling more than one child in an after-school program (or programs) and work hard to design cost-effective programs that can meet the needs of elementary school children, as well as junior high school students. Accommodations for multi-age siblings, whether by serving many age groups directly in the same after-school program, or arranging for linked, age-specific programs is critical. The key is not necessarily that siblings be in the same program, but rather that all children in a family can be served by an after-school program in a convenient and cost-effective manner.
Tending to transportation.In addition to meeting scheduling and cost needs, programs can ease parent stress by providing transportation to and from the before- and after-school programs. Transportation, in particular, is a major cost for an extended day program, but one that is especially a safety and logistical concern for families.
After-School programs with strong family involvement components. Many after-school programs have successfully built family involvement activities into their programs. These include:
Increase in business support and involvement
Availability of parenting education and skills development
Increase in parental involvement
A U.S. Department of Education initiative and parent involvement. The Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, a grassroots organization that includes over 4,800 partners all across America, seeks to increase opportunities for families to be more involved in their children?s learning and to use family-school-community partnerships to strengthen schools and improve student achievement. Partners belong to one of four groups: Family-School Partners, Employers for Learning, Community Organizations, and Religious Groups. In addition to the numerous local activities in which partnership members are involved, many participate in nationwide activities including a priority on after-school extended learning. Partner members have placed new emphasis on the importance of providing before- and after-school activities that extend learning for children in a safe, drug-free environment.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RESOURCES TO PROMOTE
As you think about organizing and implementing your after-school program with an emphasis on promoting family and community involvement, some materials available on the U.S. Department of Education?s website athttp://pfie.ed.gov can be useful to you:
If you would like hard copies or if the electronic version is not yet accessible, you can order these materials by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS, or order on-line by going tohttp://www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html
|Contact and Other Sources of Information|
Program Director: Wilson Goode, Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs (OIIA)
Fax: (202) 205-9133For more information, contact: Menahem Herman, Partnership for Family Involvement in Education
[ Strong, Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free and After-School Programs ]
[ Acknowledgments ]