Monday, August 9, 2010

Attendance on the First Day

It is important to have a plan around attendance before program ever starts. If you didn’t do this at the end of last year, let this serve as a reminder that one of the best times to recruit students for your program is at the end of the school year. You can then spend the two weeks before program calling to confirm attendance rather than wondering if you will make your ADA number.

Ask the office to give applications for the after-school program to parents who are registering students for the first time. Have an application, a brochure and contact information together for easy distribution. If the school is sending a letter to families, ask to include a flyer. If the school is using a student contact by phone system, ask if you can have a sentence or two in the message.

Just like the school day, schedule students into particular classrooms with identified Program Leaders. This is great for students and for staff. Staff can spend the time getting ready for a particular age group of students. Parents will appreciate hearing from the Program Leader who welcomes the youth into the after-school program. Be sure to let parents know that the program begins on the first day of school and you are planning a variety of fun activities for that day to help youth feel at home.

When it comes to the attendance race, you want to get out in front and lead the entire year. Recruiting students should go on until you have a waiting list for each age group of students. Sometimes students move with little or no notice, so having others ready to go, is important. Check in with parents of students on the waiting list to ensure that the student is still interested in attending the program.

Not so usual celebrations…
August 9th is Book Lover’s Day. Personally, I love books. I have hundreds of them in my home. I enjoy reading them, listening to them in unabridged audio formats, and revisiting key points from time to time. Putting books in the hands of young people is one of the tasks of the after-school program. Have a library for students to select books from (work to get access to the school library if possible). Check out Reading A-Z which has hundreds of leveled books that you can download and make available to students. For reluctant readers, one of the best ways to engage them is a serial, such as the Harry Potter books, which continue with the character until the story has evolved to an ending.

Activity for kids…
Have a dress up day so kids can come dressed as a favorite character from a book. Students should prepare a “speech” to give to anyone who asks who they are that will inform the asker of the essential aspects of the character. Have students share their character with the larger group as well.

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