Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Is Play a “Waste”?

Source: Joel deWaard

By Sam Piha

There is an inscription over a public school in northern Washington state that reads “Waste Not Thy Hour”. It reminds me of how young people’s play is often regarded as a waste. For many, play is the antithesis of learning time, however, there is growing evidence that there is a great deal of learning in play.
In an age of standardized testing and intense academic competition, it’s easy to believe that play is one more thing American children will have to do without. But free play encourages the development of the two skills that no robot can replace: creativity and teamwork. -The Secret Power of Play; Bethan Mooney for TIME (1)
Now is the time to reexamine the value of play, educate our stakeholders, and be unashamed to make play an important part of our afterschool programs. In this post we open the door to this reexamination by offering some information and definitions of terms you may find as you read about play. In a later blog post on play, we offer some additional  information and resources to encourage a reexamination of play. 
Many afterschool programs prioritize an extension of academics and homework completion over organized play, free play, and physical activity.  - The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds (2)

The Move AWAY From Play 
Over the years, there has been a pronounced reduction in the time that children spend in play. According to the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health (3), this is due to several factors: 
  1. Child supervision: Fewer families have available adult supervision in the home during the workday, which makes it necessary for children to be in settings in which they can be monitored by adults throughout the day.
  2. Afterschool program changes: Many afterschool programs prioritize an extension of academics and homework completion over organized play, free play, and physical activity. 
  3. Educational trends: There is a national trend to focus on the academic fundamentals of reading and arithmetic. This trend was spearheaded by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. One of the practical effects of the trend is decreased time left during the school day for other academic subjects, as well as recess, creative arts, and physical education. This trend may have implications for the social and emotional development of children and adolescents.
  4. Safety: In many communities, children cannot play safely outside of the home unless they are under close adult supervision and protection. This is particularly true in areas that are unsafe because of increased violence or other environmental dangers.
  5. Screentime: Children are increasingly being passively entertained through television or computer/video games. 
  6. Super-achieving children: Parents receive messages that good parents actively build every skill and aptitude their child might need to become super-achieving children, and if their children are not well prepared and high-achieving, they will not get a desired spot in higher education. 

There are many terms that one encounters when exploring the issues of play. Below are some definitions that may be helpful. 

Characteristics of play (4) 
  1. Active. During active play, children use their bodies and minds in play by interacting with the environment, materials and other people.
  2. Adventurous and risky. This type of play involves children exploring unknown or new concepts. When children engage in adventurous or risky pretend play, they are able to safely explore these concepts within the confines of a safety net.
  3. Communicative. Play presents a natural opportunity for children to share information and knowledge. Children can communicate verbally, using words or their bodies, postures and other non-verbal cues and these messages can be simple or more complicated.
  4. Enjoyable. Simply put, play is fun! When children play they should be enjoying themselves and they can often find excitement and humor in or through their play. If they aren’t having fun, it probably isn’t play. Instead of playing to win, children should be playing to play and have fun!
  5. Involved. Remember that play is a child’s work, and just like adults need to concentrate while working, children should concentrate during their play also. Children might become very involved while playing as they are actively thinking about what they are doing.
  6. Meaningful. Play provides opportunities for children to make sense of their world. Through play, children process the things they have seen and heard, what they know and what they don’t yet know. These experiences help children build upon their current knowledge, test out new theories and roles and grow their knowledge, understanding and skills.
  7. Sociable and interactive. While it is healthy and necessary for children to play independently, at least some of the time, play presents a unique and formative opportunity for children to engage in social interactions and build relationships with other children and adults.
  8. Symbolic. Children are able to test out roles, feelings, behaviors and relationships, replay things that have already happened in order to make sense of them. Symbolic play may just look like pretending, but it is actually laying the foundation for understanding of themselves and the larger world.
  9. Therapeutic. When play is fun, engaging and meaningful, it can be very therapeutic for children. Play can be a natural way for children to relieve stress and work through different emotions and experiences.
  10. Voluntary. Play is a self-chosen, spontaneous pursuit that children can change, alter and manipulate freely. Children should and will change the story, characters, materials, events, locations and purpose of their play at will.

Unstructured play is open-ended play that has no specific learning objective. Unstructured play is often informally referred to as simply "letting kids be kids" or "just play." At times, you may also hear it called "free play" or “self-play."(5

Unstructured play doesn't usually have any rules or instructions, and the possibilities tend to be unlimited! (6

Free play is unstructured, voluntary, child-initiated activity that allows children to develop their imaginations while exploring and experiencing the world around them. It is the spontaneous play that comes naturally from children's natural curiosity, love of discovery, and enthusiasm. (7)

Structured play is any type of activity that has a set of rules or instructions with a goal. For example, most games, puzzles, construction toys and organized sports are structured activities (8)

Organized play is ordered, overseen by rules, and managed or directed by another person. (9)

Source: Lapin Yliopisto University of Lapland

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Youth Media Network Virtual Summit

By Guest Blogger Jason Wyman

The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture has been convening and organizing an intergenerational network of youth media practitioners for over 20 years, and in 2019 we are more uncertain than ever what exactly youth media actually is. We've spoken with Youth Filmmakers, Teen Librarians, Teaching Artists, Museum Educators, Executive Directors, Musicians, Youth Organizers, Public School Teachers, Poets and Storytellers and each one has a different understanding of what makes and is youth media. It's beautifully messy and complex. Join The Alliance in an engaging conversation and inquiry into what exactly is youth media on Friday, October 25. Share your voice and shift your perspective.

Inspired by Canada’s Media Literacy Week, the 5th annual U.S. Media Literacy Week, October 21-25, 2019, is hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). The mission is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education all across the country. Each U.S. Media Literacy Week event calls attention to media literacy education by bringing together hundreds of partners for events and activities around the country.

Whether you are an individual teacher, an employee at an organization, or a researcher, you can get involved with Media Literacy Week by hosting a media literacy event or activity between October 21 and 25. It’s up to you to decide what, when, where, and how you want to execute your Media Literacy Week plans, but NAMLE has put together a list of resources if you need help getting started.

Source: http://www.thealliance.media/

The Alliance Youth Media Network convenes, connects, nurtures and sustains strategic development in the broad Youth Media field. We support innovative and emerging models of practice within the fields of youth media, creative youth development, and media literacy. We do this through the collaborative production of a youth media magazine, ongoing Collective Action work, hosting national Video Roundtable conversations, designing and producing youth media conference content with global partners, and through the leadership of an international network of youth media organizations.

All of the programs of our Youth Media Initiative use an intergenerational, co-creative approach as a means to demonstrate the possibilities and impact of a range of youth and elders working collaboratively and inclusively, interrogating power and privilege across program areas. To learn more click here.

Source: http://www.thealliance.media/

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Voices from the Field: Pay and Professionalism, Part 2

By Stacey Daraio

Rick Rood
Rick Rood has been on the front lines of Out-of-School-Time (OST) programs for over 25 years, working directly with children and front-line staff. (Note: OST programs are also referred to as afterschool or expanded learning programs.) Rick is an OST trainer, an author, and co-creator of the Beyond School Time Conference, and a bold thinker in the OST arena. He also serves on the Leadership Team of the California AfterSchool Network.

Below is part 2 of Rick’s responses to our interview questions. You can view part 1 here.

Q: Can you say more about professionalization of the field?

A: I believe that if we are to create a network of vibrant, healthy OST programs, we need to have a stronger sense of professionalism and unity as a field.  I think that the seeds of professionalism are there… but mostly only exist for the upper levels of management – not for the on-the-floor teachers and site coordinators. We need to extend this sense of professionalism all the way down to the grassroots – make sure that line staff understand that they’re part of something bigger, something that makes a difference. On a positive note, I think this year’s Site Coordinator Symposium put on by the California Afterschool Network took a HUGE step toward extending that professionalism to line staff. We need LOTS more of that type of experience.

Of course, the issue of professionalism is directly linked to the issue of pay. To create a professional system, we need to signal to front-line workers that their work is worthy. We want them to treat it as a profession – to continue their education and sharpen their expertise – but it gets difficult to convince someone their work is worthwhile when Carl's Jr. is offering better pay and more hours just down the street.

Another thing that I find paradoxical is how some of the leaders of the field promote jobs in out-of-school-time as stepping stones to other fields like classroom teaching, social work, nursing, et cetera. While I understand that working in out-of-school time can give people exposure to what it is like to work with children and youth, I think the unconscious message is dangerous to the field, and that is “Out-of-School Time isn’t a real profession… it’s just a pit stop on the way to something else.” Yet we continue to raise the bar for what we expect from our OST programming as well as the level of professionalism we expect from directors and front-line workers. I think it’s time that the leaders of the field take a stand for professionalizing the field and stop sending mixed messages about whether or not Out-of-School-Time is a standalone field that is worthy of professionalization and the pay and status that goes with that designation. 

I’m not saying that figuring out the money equation is going to be easy. It does seem that it’s going to take a consortium of departments of education and government (city, county, state, and federal) private sector investment and sustaining support, as well as a free-market fee-for-service component. If there’s one thing we’ve learned is that we can’t balance the cost of quality on the backs of any one of those options alone. The problem is that I don’t see a lot of movement on this front – at least not as much movement as one would expect given our pledges around the importance of OST Programs.

Q: The Beyond School Time Conference has a focus this year on youth development. Can you tell us about that?

A: The youth development philosophy, to my mind, is the only one that makes sense when you’re talking about OST Programs. I feel that in the mid 2000’s the overall philosophy behind OST programs shifted away from the Youth Development camp into many programs just being an extension of the school day.

With the recent upsurge in the understanding of the importance of Social/Emotional Learning, as well as the Aspen Group’s phenomenal report “A Nation at Hope”, and Temescal’s beautiful re-introduction of the Youth Development Philosophy, I think that it’s time that Youth Development philosophy takes its rightful place as the bedrock of how we look at quality in Afterschool and Out-of-School-Time programs. This year at the Beyond School Time Conference, our theme is Youth Development and the Whole Child.

Source: Temescal Associates

Since the late 1980s, there has been a cadre of dedicated professionals who have practiced and embodied the Youth Development Philosophy in so many OST Programs. When the philosophical discussion of the field turned to embracing a more strict academic track, the Youth Development folks kept on keeping on. Now they’re finding that their hard work and perseverance is paying off and the field is finally listening to their voice.

Q: Final thoughts?

A: I’m beyond thrilled to be an OST practitioner at this time in the history of the field. With the various points of research coming together to support SEL, the Whole Child Paradigm, and Youth Development Theory and Philosophy, I feel we’re in a renaissance of sorts in this field. And I’m excited (as I always have been) that it always seems as though California is leading the way. Now we have a governor who has repeatedly shown that he is supportive of our work, and we have momentum with various stakeholders such as the California Afterschool Network, Partnership for Children and Youth, and a leader like Michael Funk of the CDE who comes from Youth Development roots. I feel like the field of OST is ready and poised to go to the next level.

Back when I got my graduate degree in School-Age Care from Concordia University… there was a popular monograph that made its rounds called “Generation Theory in School Age Care”.  The theory followed the origins of the OST field from Generation One, which was characterized by the dominance of keeping kids safe as it’s raison d’etre, to Generation Two which ushered in the Kids’ Choice revolution, to Generation Three, which began to usher in the Youth Development Philosophy as the driving force in afterschool.

Generation Four was the pendulum swing toward strict academics and now I think, especially in light of the Aspen Report, we are seeing the dawn of Generation Five – which I believe will lead to the unification and professionalization of the field. I’m also optimistic that Generation Five will usher OST Programs into an empowering, synergistic alignment with the education field as a whole.

Rick Rood has been on the front lines of Out-of-School-Time for over 25 years, working directly with children and front-line staff. With degrees in Education, Afterschool Care, and Applied Mathematics, Rick is a student of the thought leader movement, distilling lessons from master teachers like Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, and Brendon Burchard - giving them practical application to education professionals.  Participants have described his workshops as “fascinating” and “life-changing.” 

In addition to running Out-of-School-Time Centers, Rick has also taught kids’ music, computer programming, and youth leadership through his workshops. Rick is a contributor to “Youth Today!” and is the author of “Games Teachers Play Before the Bell Rings”. Rick is a Certified High Performance Coach™ and works privately and in groups with education professionals to help them achieve higher levels of performance in their work and personal lives. Rick and his team created the Beyond School Time Conference for Out-of-School-Time Professionals in 2018 as a way for Northern California OST Professionals to connect, learn, and gather inspiration. He also serves on the Leadership Team of the California AfterSchool Network.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Voices from the Field: Pay and Professionalism, Part 1

By Stacey Daraio

Rick Rood
Rick Rood has been on the front lines of Out-of-School-Time (OST) programs for over 25 years, working directly with children and front-line staff. (Note: OST programs are also referred to as afterschool or expanded learning programs.) Rick is an OST trainer, an author, and co-creator of the Beyond School Time Conference, and a bold thinker in the OST arena. He also serves on the Leadership Team of the California AfterSchool Network.

Below are some of Rick’s responses to our interview questions. This blog post will be broken into two posts and Rick’s bio will be presented in the second post.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.

A: I studied Computer Science and Applied Mathematics as an undergraduate, but my real passion was (is) music. During this time I got a part-time gig at a Montessori preschool there in Santa Fe, as their music teacher. I remember being amazed that they were paying me for this! After college, I came back to California to look for a job. I eventually accepted a position with a brand new afterschool program in Palo Alto, remembering how much I loved working with the kids in Santa Fe.

Q: How did your previous work inspire your passion for professional development?

A: First off, I had the amazing fortune of having a set of directors and mentors early on who really role modeled best practices in working with children and youth and molded my thinking of what quality afterschool programming looks like.

Around the same time, I attended what would be a life-changing event. I signed up for Anthony Robbins’ weekend conference – “Unleash the Power Within”. So, with Robbins, and a succession of other mentors like Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, and Jack Canfield, I really dove into the realm of personal development. I kept asking myself, why isn’t this kind of information available to the education community?  I started wanting to see the application of Positive Psychology principles for afterschool professionals. I couldn’t find this information available, so I started synthesizing them myself. 

Fast forward five years, and all this led to my applying to present a workshop at CalSAC’s State Conference in 1999. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a lot of passion and I wanted to share some higher-level concepts with others who were working with kids during out-of-school time. I was beyond excited as these ideas were received with enthusiasm. After that, I was privileged to join the CalSAC Trainer Network and help them develop their Afterschool Development curriculum and serve as a Trainer of the Trainers for their first Trainer Network kickoff.

Q: After all of these years, what keeps you in this work? 

A: As a practitioner in the field, I have always been passionate about creating the very best in Out-of-School programming for children and youth. Serving as a trainer allows me to be out there with other professionals around California and sharing that passion and rallying front line staff to up their potential. One of the best things about being a trainer is when in a workshop or during a keynote, front-line staff and site coordinators really come face to face and connect with the impact that they have on the day to day lives of youth and families.

I still believe that the powerful principles of Youth Development and Positive Psychology are under-utilized in the field today. As a trainer, I love being a voice for this unique way of inspiring, motivating, and educating those that work in the OST Profession.

We’re starting to see some movement with the recent advent of Dweck’s work on Mindset, the GRIT philosophy, the reappearance of Youth Development Philosophy, and the resurgence of Social-Emotional Development. I think it’s a good time to espouse these Positive Psychology principles. In concert, I think it could mean a huge lift to the public’s perception of the importance of the OST Profession.
Source: CASEL

Q: What are you seeing as the greatest needs for educators in the non-school hours?

A: Two things: Pay and Professionalism. And they’re related. I feel like I have a bit of a reputation as being the “angry young man” around these issues.  And I have to admit, I do harbor a bit of angst around some of the policies of the leaders of the field.

OST programs have the potential to change lives and to open up new possibilities for children, youth, and families that wouldn’t be available otherwise. OST workers value continuing education and many have college degrees. Yet we treat these same workers as disposable – low wages, few hours, very few getting health insurance – while expecting them to be extraordinary in how they show up at work each day.

As a director, I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to lose fantastic employees to In-and-Out, Target, and other entry-level jobs where the pay is higher, hours are longer, and health insurance is available. Study after study has shown that staff turnover has a pronounced negative effect on OST program participants. Yet, we continue to think of our high rate of turnover as an “acceptable loss”. We all understand by now that having stable staff – significant adults – in the lives of children and youth has a profound positive effect on youth outcomes in the long run. I get very frustrated at how some administrators treat OST workers as disposable. 

I was at a workshop earlier this year on Afterschool Leadership Strategies, and the workshop leader, who was the CEO of a community-based organization that provided afterschool programs, said (paraphrasing), “… you don’t want kids coming back to the program after they graduate high school and see the same staff working there… what kind of example is that?”  I was irate at his comments because they demeaned not only the position of that teacher in the afterschool program, but they devalued the possibility of professionalism for any frontline staff in the workshop. The implicit message was that frontline positions aren’t “real jobs” – they should only be thought of as stepping stones to somewhere else.

The question of how to fund OST programs – which means funding the salaries of the OST Professionals staffing those programs – is a tough nut of a question.  I do think we need to look at some sort of compromise between the government-funded solutions of ASES and 21st CCLC and fee-for-service models. I think what we’ve seen is that you can’t balance the entire cost on the backs of either government or parents. The daily rates available to government-funded programs will always keep program staff turning over, and the fee-for-service model locks out 70% of families from having the resources to participate, and it becomes an equity issue.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thinking About Equity: Nature and Afterschool

By Sam Piha

When I managed afterschool programs in the SF Bay area, we learned that many of the kids we served had never been on the bay, seen the ocean, planted a seed and experienced it grow into a real plant, walked in a forest or camped outside overnight. Many had never been beyond their neighborhood, owned a swimsuit or knew how to swim. Was this an equity issue? Yes. 

In response, we conducted nature outings, camping trips, and swimming lessons. We even purchased swimsuits for those that didn’t have them. Because one of our lead agencies was the YMCA, we had resources for this. But every afterschool program can contribute by incorporating nature into their program. 
Recent studies focus not so much on what is lost when nature experience fades, but on what is gained through more exposure to natural settings, including nearby nature in urban places. - Richard Louv

Richard Louv
In two previous blog posts, we reviewed the power of nature in afterschool programs. Richard Louv, author and Co-Founder of the Children & Nature Network, has written a lot about the intersection between access to nature and development. He was recently interviewed by the Greater Good Science Center. We share an excerpt and link to the full interview below. 

Q: How will this trend impact pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors in kids?

RL: If nature experiences continue to fade from the current generation of young people, and the next, and the ones to follow, where will future stewards of the earth come from?

Past research has shown that adults who identify themselves as environmentalists or conservationists almost always had some transcendent experiences in the natural world. What happens if that personal experience virtually disappears?

Q: Are there particular kinds of experiences in nature that seem to have the most impact on kids?

RL: The quality of the nature experience depends on how direct the experience with nature is. Are kids getting their hands wet and their feet muddy? These types of activities can help kids learn to have confidence in themselves and power to make independent decisions. 

One reason for this is the risk-taking inherent in outdoor play, which plays an important role in child development. Without independent play, the critical cognitive skill called executive function is at risk. Executive function is a complex process, but at its core is the ability to exert self-control, to control and direct emotion and behavior. Children develop executive function in large part through make-believe play. The function is aptly named: When you make up your own world, you’re the executive. A child’s executive function, as it turns out, is a better predictor of success in school than IQ.

See full interview here

Richard also gave us permission to share some of his interview with youth development guru, Karen Pittman. 

RL: Did you have experiences in nature that helped form who you are today? As a child or an adult?

Karen Pittman
KP: I grew up in a working class, urban neighborhood in a family that emphasized the value of sending children outdoors to play. We did not, however, do any organized outdoor activities beyond family picnics. So it wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that you could walk the length of Washington D.C. through Rock Creek Park, or stand on the waterfront of the Potomac River. Learning this was liberating. To this day, I seek nature to calm, inspire, reflect, and marvel at the intricacy of life.

RL: How does a lack of access to nature factor into the challenges that youth face?

KP: The Chicago Consortium for School Research defines successful young adults as those who have an integrated identity, a sense of agency, and a range of competencies. Getting to these end states requires young people to have access to safe, supportive, relationship-rich opportunities to act and reflect while being challenged to learn and master new things. 

Nature is an ideal setting for young people to learn new content, try new things, apply their skills in different ways and fail safely. Nature is a new environment for many young people – one that they haven’t explored. One of the challenges many young people face is that they don’t have comfortable opportunities to be in a group of young people in which they won’t be immediately judged for what they don’t know. 

We learned, at High Scope Camp, the importance of challenging groups to learn and do things that none, or few, youth had done (e.g. folk dancing). These are “clean slate” learning opportunities in which some will shine, some will struggle, but it is not clear who will fall into which camp. Beyond exploration, nature also provides young people with ample opportunities to have a sense of agency, to achieve mastery and to flesh out and expand their sense of identity.

RL: Can you share any stories about the benefits of nature for opportunity youth?

KP: I believe that there are studies on the importance of programs like the Fresh Air Fund. But I’ll quickly share a High Scope story. The camp was billed as an educational camp for teenagers. Their jobs, for about 4 hours a day, were to participate in one or two short exploratory classes and longer workshop experience that culminated in a product or presentation. The setting for all of this learning, however, was several hundred acres that included trails, a small lake, and a working farm. In addition, all youth participated in overnight camping or canoeing trips. These were powerful experiences for all of the young people.

But for young people from more distressed communities or stressful situations, the main impact was that they had the experience of learning that nature can be a safe place. One that, unlike their communities, has challenges that you can predict and prepare for. Then, as noted, the second important learning for these young people is that they could become leaders in a broader learning setting in which academics is not the main measure of success.

See full interview here.

There are many resources and articles on development and nature as well as program ideas. Many can be found by doing a web search of “nature and children”. There are also resources listed in the full interviews cited above. We also urge readers to take a look at the Children & Nature website. 

Richard Louv is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization supporting the international movement to connect children, their families and their communities to the natural world. He is the author of ten books, including "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," "The Nature Principle," and "Vitamin N." His newest book, "Our Wild Calling: How Connecting to Animals Can Transform Our Lives — and Save Theirs." In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal. He speaks frequently around the country and internationally.

Karen J. Pittman is president and CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan “action tank” that combines thought leadership on youth development, youth policy, cross-system/cross-sector partnerships and developmental youth practice with on-the-ground training, technical assistance and support. Karen is a respected sociologist and leader in youth development. Prior to co-founding the Forum in 1998, she launched adolescent pregnancy prevention initiatives at the Children’s Defense Fund, started the Center for Youth Development and Policy Research, and served as senior vice president at the International Youth Foundation. Karen was involved in the founding of America’s Promise and directed the President’s Crime Prevention Council during the William Clinton administration. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

One More Thing

By Sam Piha

We are committed to speaking out on the youth impacts of immigration policies, sustained funding for afterschool, access to mindfulness training and playful learning opportunities afterschool. Below, we offer some additional resources on these topics.

Source: Denver Public Schools
“In the wake of the horrible tragedy in El Paso, Texas, and the ICE raids in Mississippi that have come crashing down on a nation already awash in rising racial tension and vilification of immigrant families, we…are now more than ever focused on being a safe harbor for all of our children and families.” -Denver School Superintendent Susana Cordova (Cordova’s full statement is available in several languages.)

We do know that some school districts have addressed these issues regarding immigrant youth. But what about afterschool programs? According to the Afterschool Alliance, “In communities across the country, anxiety and concern are growing among immigrant children and families in response to new immigration policies and efforts currently underway. Afterschool programs can play an important role in creating a safe and welcoming environment for immigrant students and families and cultivating a sense of belonging and overall wellbeing.” The Afterschool Alliance hosted a webinar with speakers from the National Immigration Law Center and Legal Services for Children. 

The Alliance is also in conversations with the American Constitutional Society for Law & Policy on hosting another webinar next month on the topic of the ICE raids. We will share more information once we know more.

We know that funding for afterschool is not guaranteed. Thus, it is important that we advocate every year. One way is participation in the yearly Lights On Afterschool events. 

“Join more than 8,000 communities and 1 million Americans in celebrating afterschool programs for this year's Lights On Afterschool! This nationwide event, organized by the Afterschool Alliance, calls attention to the importance of afterschool programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open. To learn more about Lights On Afterschool, register an event, access event planning tools, or to find out what’s going on in your area, visit afterschoolalliance.org.” -Youth Service America
Why not invite a policymaker to visit your program? By engaging them, you begin to build a relationship and educate them about the importance of your program and the issues that matter to you.

Check out Youth Service America’s site on GYSD Advocacy / Public Official Engagement Tools. This page will help you engage public leaders. Voices for National Service has tips for Hosting a Successful Site Visit. The Afterschool Alliance outlines five simple steps to set up a site visit and also provides these three case studies

Too often we have avoided the “F” word, FUN, in afterschool programs.  The National Afterschool Association (NAA) dedicated an issue of Afterschool Today to playful learning. In 2019, The Genius of Play spread its message to afterschool professionals and parents through a new partnership with NAA.  

Source: Laurie Grossman

For years we have been promoting the value of teaching mindfulness. We thought you might enjoy this brief radio interview with a school volunteer that teaches mindfulness to young people in an Oakland school.

Is Play a “Waste”?

Source: Joel deWaard By Sam Piha There is an inscription over a public school in northern Washington state that reads “Waste Not Thy ...