Extending Learning Time for Disadvantaged Students - Volume 2 Profiles of Promising Practices - 1995
A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Before- And After-School Program
Yuk Yau Child Development Center5
- Independent location with links to a nearby school
- Multiple and varied groupings
The Yuk Yau Child Development Center (CDC), founded at its current site in 1982 and administered by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), offers three programs: before- and after-school programming for K-3 students at a nearby elementary school, a full-day preschool program, and a prekindergarten program for three hours a day.6 The center is open 10 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and provides services during the summer, on holidays, and on teacher in-service days. Most students who participate before and/or after school also participate in the summer program. Yuk Yau focuses on developmentally appropriate activities, language arts, and multicultural activities with the goal of preparing Asian children for success in school and full participation in American society.
Yuk Yau, located in downtown Oakland's Chinatown, is one of 22 child development centers operated by the school district. Yuk Yau maintains close ties to Lincoln Elementary School across the street, where all of the center's school-age children are enrolled. Although only 10 percent of the children attending Yuk Yau live in the Lincoln school area, they are automatically enrolled at Lincoln upon completion of preschool and prekindergarten so they may continue to participate in the Yuk Yau program. About 85 of the Center's 122 slots are filled by school-age children (K-3), most of whom entered Yuk Yau as preschoolers; the rest are in prekindergarten.
Ninety-eight percent of the children attending Yuk Yau are Asian; of these, 96 percent are Cantonese and 4 percent are Vietnamese. All of the Asian children come from non-English-speaking families. Sixty percent come from families whose annual income is below $15,000, and 40 percent have family incomes of between $15,000 and $30,000. Many parents work in minimum wage jobs, hold more than one job at a time, and/or support extended families that have no other source of income. Ninety percent of the children receive free or reduced-price lunch.
Major Program Features
- Planning and design. The Oakland CDCs were developed by the state government in the 1930s to provide child care to women working in wartime industries; the focus on providing child care continues today. Planning for the Yuk Yau center began in 1976, driven by renewed community interest in before- and after-school care. The school district constructed a permanent building for Yuk Yau. The facility, designed by University of California/Berkeley architecture students, has an entirely moveable interior wall system; a small, sunken theater-in-the-round; and two lofts, one that provides a play area for students in kindergarten and first grade, and one that houses the primary grades' computer station. Yuk Yau also has a large fenced-in playground, a full kitchen, restrooms, lockers, a piano, and a small cafeteria. Instructional materials, although sparse, include several games of logic and skill, such as chess.
- Academic focus. The Yuk Yau program provides "parallel education" for Lincoln school's K-3 students by reinforcing skills taught during the regular school day, through hands-on activities and individualized help on homework. It also provides a quiet, comfortable work area and nurturing attention for children whose parents work long hours, according to the site administrator. Overarching emphases include encouraging children to write, draw, play thought-provoking games skillfully, and use educational and recreational computer software.
Students are grouped by interest, random selection, and weekly rotating schedules to ensure that each child is exposed to all types of activities and learns to work easily with others. Kindergartners and first-grade students share a classroom but spend time before school in the primary classroom with older students; the two rooms are merged for activities three times a week. All students also share common playground periods. Activities for the youngest children are based on developmentally and age-appropriate practices; themes are integrated across the curriculum. Although school-age children focus on acquiring English language skills, the curriculum structure is the same for all participants.
The primary classroom incorporates theme-based instruction into independent work periods, small and large group activities, and outdoor free play. The independent work period allows school-age children to select a topic of interest (e.g., science, math, or art) and work at their own pace. For example, students may work on a puzzle map of the United States, explore different land forms through shapes and pictures, or experiment with magnets. The teacher or assistant guides children who have difficulty or suggest different activities if the chosen one proves too difficult.
Small group activities allow children to move among various hands-on labs and projects interacting with their peers. A language lesson may involve writing a story as a group and discussing it. Large group activities focus on social skills, reading, and storytelling; all children come together for outdoor free play. All school-age children also do at least 20 minutes of homework four days a week. On Fridays, the curriculum is unstructured. Yuk Yau's summer program, which lasts between 6 and 10 hours a day, includes field trips and special sports events such as a baseball league and weekly swimming lessons.
- Organizational management/structure. The center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Yuk Yau staff are employed by the school district and supervised by a site administrator, who also oversees another CDC. Each preschool group of 24 children is staffed by one teacher and two assistants. All other groupings consist of one teacher and one aide for every 28 students. The school-age classrooms are staffed by 3.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers, with 5.66 FTE instructional aide support. The educational qualifications of teachers and assistants range from Child Development Associate training to a graduate degree; turnover is low.
Because of the center's proximity to the school, communication about special assistance or problems occurs daily between Lincoln and Yuk Yau staff--often when teachers escort students between the buildings, by telephone, or by written message. In addition, a joint study team of Lincoln and Yuk Yau staff meets monthly to promote formal program coordination. Because Yuk Yau is open so many hours each day and teachers work seven-hour shifts, the site administrator schedules morning and afternoon teachers to overlap at least one hour, which provides smooth transitions for students who may be there both before and after school. Assistants work split shifts, covering both morning and afternoon hours.
- Parent and community involvement. Because the program is designed to provide child care, parents of Yuk Yau participants must either be working or be in a job-oriented training program. These parents typically see education as their children's path to success and a job, and Yuk Yau as a step in the right direction. They develop relationships with center staff in part because they must sign their children in and out daily, which often leads to conversations about the children and their activities. They actively support the Center's focus on English language acquisition and volunteer whenever their schedules permit. In addition, 75 percent to 80 percent of the parents attend monthly parent education workshops at Yuk Yau. Topics include health, discipline, and learning activities parents can do with their children.
The local community supports Yuk Yau. During the Chinese New Year, the Center hosts a celebration for 500 people. Local Asian-owned companies make occasional contributions. The importance of community service is impressed on the children, who, in cooperation with a local charity, help prepare and deliver Christmas meals to the homeless.
Yuk Yau staff network within the community to ensure that parents and children make smooth transitions to the center and from the Yuk Yau to Lincoln. For example, if parents cannot pay or arrange for the paperwork and medical examinations their children need to enroll in the Center or Lincoln, Yuk Yau staff coordinate with appropriate social service agencies to ease the burden. Staff also arrange for translators and Asian mental health and counseling services for children and parents and coordinate Yuk Yau families to arrange transportation for students. These efforts increase families' sense of community with their children's teachers and dedication to their children's learning.
- Professional environment. Yuk Yau teachers participate in monthly staff development workshops held by the district's department of early childhood development. Recent sessions included conflict resolution strategies, writing effective lesson plans, integrated curricula, effective parent-teacher relationships, and cross-cultural studies. These teachers regularly share what they have learned with the teaching assistants. In addition, teaching assistants participate in several formal professional development sessions each year.
- Funding. All families of school-age children attending Yuk Yau pay fees based on a sliding scale distributed by the California Department of Education, although more than 95 percent of the children pay nothing. Per-pupil expenditures are approximately $27 a day. Approximately 65 percent of the families receive some form of public assistance, and more than 90 percent of the children receive free or reduced-price lunch.
- Assessment and accountability. School district guidelines require an annual program self-evaluation that includes setting goals and objectives for the upcoming year. Annual performance reviews also require staff to set personal goals. In addition, the district's department of early childhood development encourages the CDCs to compare test scores of third-graders who participated in the program with those of nonparticipating third-graders.
The Yuk Yau Center overcomes two of the problems that often plague extended-time programs--transportation availability and cost--by its proximity to Lincoln Elementary School, which all of the center's students eventually attend. Yuk Yau staff escort K-3 students to the Center after the regular school day; if a child needs to stay after school for any reason, that does not cause any transportation problems for the Center.
Evidence of Success
Because the purpose of the CDCs is to assist working parents, evaluation data on Yuk Yau's academic effectiveness have not been a high priority. However, the director of the district's early childhood education program notes that several school principals whose students participate in the centers say that these students more often have their homework completed, are better able to resolve conflicts with others, and demonstrate a strong desire to learn. The principal at Lincoln Elementary agrees with this assessment.
5 Much of the information in this profile came from a 1993 research report entitled the National Study of Before and After-school Programs, conducted by RMC Research Corporation in collaboration with the School Age Child Care Project at Wellesley College, and Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., for the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Policy and Planning.
6 The preschool and prekindergarten programs are similar in philosophy and curriculum, but the preschool program's primary goal is to provide subsidized childcare for parents who are employed or training for employment. The prekindergarten program's goal is to provide one year of preschool education to children from any low-income family.
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