Tuesday, September 6 marks the first day of school for the Chicago Public Schools. There’s excitement, scrambling for last minute supplies, and nerves. Of course the child is nervous for school; new classroom, new teacher, harder lessons and books. But, the parent(s) is also nervous. Of course they also worry about the class, friends, and teacher. But, there is a greater worry for the quality of their child’s education–are they learning what they need to succeed in life?
This is a hard question to answer as we have to look at so much more than the standard definition of success. Our schools prepare our children for success in academics. They learn how to read and write, how to memorize, and how to take exams. While they may bring back A’s, this may not accurately reflect their actual learning. What would describe success to you? Perhaps it looks like this:
- Ability to work in teams
- Daring to be creative
- Confidence to try
- Having positive relationships
- Being empathetic
Our school system focuses on creating good learners and successful test takers. Sometimes, that takes all of their focus. This is not a fault of our school system, it just points to where it needs support to help our children be well-rounded in their success. And answers exist! Your child can learn everything they need to succeed in life, including the important social skills.
After-school programs are positive supports to schools, and they should be recognized by parents as being equally important in their child’s education. After-school programs, especially mentoring programs, build the supports children need to develop strong, successful relationships. They can also be an important tool to keeping our kids safe after school. The Afterschool Alliance says:
Afterschool programs have come to be recognized as critical partners in helping to ensure that all children are afforded the opportunities that will help them thrive and meet their full potential. Afterschool programs can enact meaningful change by encouraging children to explore different interest areas to find their passion, finding new and creative ways to keep kids excited about learning, offering academic help to students who are struggling with their school day lessons, and helping keep their students from hunger by providing nutritious foods.
In sum, encourage your children to attend an after-school program!