Have you ever thought about the difference between a calendar and a schedule? It’s important to understand the difference and why each is so important for your program.
Yearly and monthly calendars should be created so you can be sure to include special events (Thanksgiving, July 4, Spring Break, President’s Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s. Birthday), surveys that need to be completed by parents and students, monthly themes, guest speakers, field trips, site assessments, and other events. Calendars do not have to be adhered to without change, but they do provide a frame from which the program can operate. A year-long plan, supported by a monthly calendar that is fleshed out, helps keep the program remain holistically on track.
Calendars and schedules are also helpful for families and school day partners. Include special school events (Back to School, Open House, Parent Conferences, Staff Development Days) on your calendar as well. These school day events will affect your program—often by the unavailability of space or program closure. Monthly calendars can be distributed with monthly newsletters or Snack Menus.
Schedules on the other hand serve quite a different purpose. Legislation requires the afterschool program to have several components. Other components are not required but recommended. The required components are academic support (usually homework at a minimum) and academic enrichment.
Recommended components include physical activity and additional support for English Language Learners and STEM. The afterschool program needs to be balanced so that the “whole” child is addressed and that “whole” person includes body, heart, mind, and spirit. Taking our cue from this, a high quality afterschool program will have physical activity and other healthy living components to address the body; clubs of interest to speak to the heart; academic components including homework, support for English Learners and other academic supports to challenge the mind; and the arts, service learning, and community service to converse with the spirit.
To get so much done in the three or more hours of afterschool programming may mean that you have to balance the program over more than a day or a week. Some programs are scheduled on a two week basis which allows all aspects of a quality program to find a place that is long enough for the student to have adequate time to participate in the activities.
Begin with a calendar, move on to the schedule, and finally end with the daily and weekly detailed plans for your program. Share the calendar and schedule with everyone so they know what to expect. Once you have these two planning documents in place you will be set to move forward.