Friday, August 13, 2010


One of the most important things you can do when planning for your after-school program is to create a balanced schedule. This can be tricky because there are so many things that you would like to include in the program. Make a list of all of the things that you would like to offer students. Categorize the list. Consider several different views of the items to place on the list. For example, some things need to be done daily, others 2 times per week, others one time a week, and finally things that can be done once a month. Another way to categorize the list would be in “buckets” identified as academic, enrichment, visual and performing arts, healthy living, team building, clubs, electives, and so on. You may have other ways to categorize the different things you offer in your program. Looking at these categories will help you begin to develop a balanced schedule.

Too often we get locked into scheduling a day or a week. While this is great if you want a contained space of time, it is not always the best way to look at a program that needs to be in harmonic balance rather than perfect balance. In after-school, having an opportunity to cook 2 times in a month is awesome, while time for homework needs to occur at least 4 days each week (sometimes kids get a break on Friday). Try scheduling in two or three week blocks so you have enough time to include the wide range of interesting activities that kids desire.

Another thing to consider when scheduling is the attention span of the students in particular age-groups and the length of time needed to accomplish the task. To schedule an hour of homework time for a 1st grader is probably overkill, while scheduling 30 minutes for a middle school student can certainly be a “drop in the bucket”. For younger students, activities need to be clustered together to ensure that student interest is maintained. Middle school students will need more time to spend in the Robotics Lab to complete a project. When working out a schedule, you need to consider these things.

Once you have scheduled your program it is important to know that you can alter the schedule for a special event. You want a schedule that is balanced but flexible. If you discover that you need to truly change the schedule, give yourself some lead time and include your team in making the changes.

Not so usual celebration…
August 13th is Blame Someone Else Day. This is one of those days that ought to have plenty of traction. Actually, if we could limit this activity to August 13th that would be totally awesome! Too often we “blame someone else” when there is really no one to blame at all. Things happen. Actually, this is a rotating “not so usual celebration”. The technical designation is the first Friday the 13th of the year. On this day, blaming someone or something else for your performance is acceptable. The down side of this day, of course is while you are busy blaming someone else, they can be returning the favor and blaming you. Also, if you blame someone on this day, it may come back to you tomorrow as the “blamee” pushes the responsibility right back at you.

Activities for kids…
Have students work in groups research symbols that indicate “good luck” and symbols that indicate “bad luck”. For example, Friday the 13th is considered an omen for “bad luck” while March 17th is a day to access the “luck of the Irish”. After students have developed a list for both, have the groups share with the class. Have students pick the symbol of “good luck” that resonates with them and then develop a story around the “luck” that this symbol brings to the main character. Have students share the stories with each other.

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