Building on a successful day and a successful week, what does it take to have a successful first month. Focusing on building relationships, safety, fun, and establishing agreements, the only thing you need to add to have a successful first month, is establishing a routine in your opening, throughout the rotations, and into the closing. You are building habits around the after-school program which far from becoming boring and predictable, will actually provide you with opportunities to take advantage of those serendipitous moments when learning can be captured in the best circumstances, and then build on those. If the basics are in place—agreements, safety relationship, understanding of what fun really means, and routine without boredom, then the sky is the limit for your program. The first month should be a predictor of the great opportunities that kids will have for the next nine months.
By the end of the month, you should be at 100% attendance with a waiting list of at least 25 students, across all age groups. Youth and Program Leaders are building strong relationships and the respect with which everyone treats others is regularly observable. The tone of the program has been set, and the program is considered the place to be in the hours after-school.
Youth are beginning to step up and into leadership roles. You have had your first parent meeting, created the Advisory Committee of both parents and youth, and the after-school staff is becoming a high-functioning team.
When you have these things in place during the first month of the after-school program, then celebrate the success, and share the accolades with students and staff alike.
Not so usual celebrations…
August 25th is Kiss and Make Up Day. To be sure, we do not literally promote “Kiss and Make Up Day”, because kissing is the last thing we want to have happen during the after-school program. So when looking at this day, let’s look at the intent of the day, the truth behind this idiom. The intent of this day is to end spats and disagreements and find ways that we can get along. It is the day to right wrongs that have unintentionally occurred but that appear to be the “elephant in the room” because they have not been discussed and resolved. So, if you are holding a grudge, release it today and “kiss and make up” in the most figurative way.
Activity for Kids
Have kids think about something that they have done that they are not proud of that they should apologize for. It can be something as simple as not saying “thank you” for a gift or to someone for fixing a favorite dish for dinner. It might be an argument that they had with a sibling over who had control over the TV remote control, who was going to wear a particular sweater or jacket, or whose job it was to do the dishes. We all have those things which didn’t go quite right, and as much as we would like for the other person to “own” it, 100%, chances are we contributed to the challenge. Have young people write down the specific events, and then discuss how they will release the anger or disappointment that they are holding on to.