Well, here we are. One year later and slowly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. As kids begin to head back into schools it is clear that we still have a lot of work to do to make up for what has been lost over the last year. Afterschool enrichment programs are going to be more important than ever. Supplemental enrichment programs not only provide a safe space for children after school hours, but they also build important and life-long skills. At their core, these programs offer educational enrichment, but just as importantly they encourage and build confidence, team work and the social development skills that have taken a huge hit during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, like most businesses, enrichment providers have been negatively impacted over the last year. In fact 84% of afterschool programs are concerned they won’t be able to provide services in Fall 2021. Schools are still trying to figure out the best and safest path forward and often enrichment programs get pushed aside. It is important though that we don't lose focus on the importance and necessity of these programs. According to Afterschool Alliance "decades of research prove afterschool helps kids attend school more often, get better grades, and build foundational skills, like communication, teamwork, and problem solving."
The recent passing of the American Rescue Act which made $30B available for afterschool and summer programs is a giant step forward in effort to improve learning for all communities. These resources will allow our schools to build back stronger and recognize the value of afterschool support to our students and our community. But keeping the lights on afterschool also requires your support. As enrichment providers work to get back to providing the resources that our kids need, there are a few ways you can help them build back better.
Teachers and administrators are busy, now more than ever before. They want to support students and parents in any way they can but sometimes the day to day tasks can get in the way of planning for the future. Now is the time to reach out to your principals and teachers and let them know that you need afterschool programs back in your schools. Enrichment providers like Snapology have adapted the way they teach their programs to follow the same guidelines that our schools are following to create a safe environment for students. They are ready to step in as soon as schools are able to open doors. If your school is not quite ready to offer afterschool enrichment, consider working with providers for end of year fun days, in-school field trips or even fundraising events.
Following enrichment providers on social media is a great way to stay up to date with the opportunities they are offering. Many providers are facilitating programs outside of schools where you can enroll your child to get the same benefits as they would in an afterschool program. Get started by following some of our favorites.
Many enrichment providers found ways to offer virtual programs when being together in person wasn't possible. Through these virtual classes they are able to keep their lights on while offering kids a chance to stay social and develop new skills. These virtual offerings are also a great way to test out different programs and find one that might be right for your child.
If you have enjoyed a past experience with an enrichment program, tell the world about it! Reviews not only make a huge difference to these businesses, but they also help fellow parents find programs that will benefit their own children. Google and Facebook reviews are a great place to start.
As we begin to shape the future of what education looks like, let's take a step back reflect on what the last year has taught us. We know that kids and communities need educational support. We know that our kids need opportunities to interact and work with other children. We know that our communities rely on the support of our schools, but schools can't be the only resource available. With your help, we can build a better future for our children and our communities. Please join us in our efforts to support afterschool by sharing this blog and tagging your favorite afterschool enrichment program.