At the beginning of each year it is strongly recommended that you have a Parent Meeting to share with parents what they can expect from the after-school program and what the after-school program expects from them. This is the time you can let parents know what your program offers, how time is scheduled, your policy around homework, how much time students must spend in the program (this varies widely across age groups), what the expectation is around behavior, how you will communicate with the parent, and an overview of the calendar for the year. If you are working with elementary and middle school students in California, there are legislative guidelines around balanced programming, early release and mandated program components. Share those with the parent.
This Parent Meeting will set the tone for the year. You are working in partnership not only with the school day but with the parents to support the success of each young person in your program. Having an informational meeting will help everyone be on the same page. If you have a Parent Handbook for your program, the Parent Meeting is the time to pass it out. Some programs make attendance at the parent meeting one of the criteria for acceptance into the program. Have this Parent Meeting several times to ensure that all parents have a chance to attend. Schedule an evening, morning, and early afternoon meeting and give parents plenty of advanced notice.
Not so usual celebrations… August 12th is Middle Child’s Day. Of course, if you are an only child or have only one brother or sister, this day is meaningless to you, but if you happen to be the “child in the middle” you will appreciate a special day at least once a year. Much has been written about the middle child and the challenges that they face. Unlike the oldest child who is the first and receives much fan fare beginning at birth, and the youngest child who has a contingency of older siblings to look out for them, the middle child (I suppose in a family of 7 children there are technically 5 middle children, and 1 really middle child) is caught in the middle between the oldest (the more responsible driven child) and the youngest (the child with more advantages simply based on location in the family order). So, if you are a middle child, or you know one, celebrate the day. You might want to consider watching reruns of the TV program who honors this child—Malcolm in the Middle.
Activities for kids… Have students make a list of things that can be found in the middle—lunch meat or other sandwich filling, Wednesday, 1/2 time in many games, 30 minutes after an hour begins, the creamy filling inside a donut or Twinkie, the Equator or the International Date Line or the Prime Meridian, and so on. After brainstorming a giant list and recording on a group memory, have students create questions or clues for each “middle”, and then play Jeopardy or Password.