So you think that kids may be doing a great variety of activities at other programs--but they just don't work at your site?
That Just Doesn't Work Here is a phrase that is all too common to avoid change. Other versions of this statement could be:
• The children in this program only want to_______
• My kids arent interested in anything else.
• It's different here.
•The older kids just want to sit and do nothing.
Quality school-age programs are designed to meet the needs of children. How can the activity in question be adjusted to meet those needs and interests? Consider the following statements. Can one of these be the reason That it Just Doesn't Work Here?
- Making a hanging skeleton at Halloween is fun if it's the first time, but is it still stimulating when you're in the fourth grade and you've made one every year?
2. Not informing all the children of upcoming events, in a timely manner.
- Be sure all the children are aware of upcoming events.
- Advertise and inform in postings, newsletters, talks, in the daily schedule of events and information center.
3. Failure to build excitement and anticipation!
- Post and count down the days to the activity sign-up day. This builds anticipation.
- Staff needs to display enthusiasm for innovative endeavors to work.
4. Not including the children in planning. Ask the kids what they want!
- Knowing what YOUR children like will ensure that they will want to attend your school-age program.
- Including children in planning also may encourage them to try new things.
5. Not getting to know YOUR kids!
- All children are unique. Building rapport with each child will help you plan a curriculum with their interests in mind.
- Children may say that they only want to color, play outdoors or in the gym; however, getting to know them as individuals will help provide quality programming based on their individuality.
6. Failing to pre-plan.
- Pre-planning curriculum ensures that activities will be scheduled and facilitated as intended.
- Pre-planning allows for continuity with a variety of choices.
- Pre-planning lessens the likelihood of last-minute scrambling.
- Pre-planning allows staff time to organize materials and to have a say in what they do.
7. Not being ready before activities begin.
- Staff should understand the directions of the project.
- If an art or craft is involved, a pre-made sample is recommended. This sample is only a visual goal---which the children can adapt to their own personal vision.
- If possible, pre-test scientific experiments and cooking projects.
- All supplies and centers should be ready and set-up before any activity is scheduled to start.
- Not being ready causes:
- Long transitions and waning enthusiasm.
- Unnecessary stress.
- Possibility of behavioral challenges due to waiting.
8. An activity that is either too young for the older children or too challenging for the younger child.
- Example: A game of Duck, Duck, Goose, would not appeal to most fifth graders.
9. Activities or meetings that are held too long to sustain interest.
10. The #1 reason for a creative (or any) activity failing is the lack of consistent follow-through.
- If something such as a School-Age store is to be open the last Wednesday of each month, then it needs to be open on that scheduled day.
- If a new and different Activity of the Week is to be scheduled each week, then that new activity must be on the agenda as promised.
- If a club meeting is scheduled every Tuesday at 4:00…then that is when the club meeting is held.
Children lose faith and interest when planned events aren't held consistently. Nothing kills creative programming faster than failure to follow through with the proposed agenda. Consider then, how program structure may be leading to mistaken beliefs and assumptions such as: The children in this program only want to play in the gym or go outside! or...That Just Doesn't Work Here!
Barbara Shelby~Tip page published in school-age-note of the day, April 2007