Thursday, September 22, 2011

Best Practices for an Afterschool Program Indoor Environment

The indoor space needs to be clean and colorful, interesting and inviting, and should reflect the children, their varying ages, cultures, and special interests. It needs to be broken up into different areas, providing a variety of activity choices. It needs to be labeled, clearly communicating what privileges and expectations children have in each area. It needs to be homelike and contain at least one very homelike area.

Planning and preparing the environment can be an activity in which the children can and should be involved. Children can generate some discussion and design suggested floor plans. This will give them the feeling of ownership, while teaching them citizenship and a sense of community. Involving all of the children will help the environment to reflect the group of kids and what they like.

Construction Zone

See our incredible staff setup the environment 
in only 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

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The activity space should be divided up different areas. One area can contain some Legos, Lincoln logs, craft sticks, wood blocks, construction straws or dominoes. This area should display a sign that says something like "Construction Zone" for the kids, and in smaller letters "Manipulatives/Fine Motor Area" for the educators' and parents' understanding. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Science of Sunshine - UV Detection Beads

As we were getting ready to begin, Madison snuck in some English and SPANISH language arts when she read them a poem that she wrote about our topic of the day!

Hot, Bright
Burning, Heating, Energizing
Sol, Fire, Space Light 
Shining, Twinkling, Sparkling
Estrella, Bright

To sneak in some MORE literacy, she read Bear Shadow, by Frank Asch - 
a story about a bear who was outside all day trying to do everything he could think of to get rid of his shadow because it scared away the fish when we went fishing.

Sneakin' in Some Literacy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Habit #7 is Communication

Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something.—Plato

Dynamic and highly-effective afterschool programs are places for generative discussion and intensive action. Language functions as a tool for bonding, innovating, coordinating, and cooperating. People can speak from their hearts and connect with each other in the spirit of dialog—from the Greek dia + logos, moving through.

Dialog is an essential element of organizational learning and highly-effective leaderhip. Peter Senge identifies three conditions that are necessary for dialog to occur: all participants must suspend their assumptions; all participants must regard one another as colleagues; and there must be a facilitator who holds the context of the dialog.

When people talk and listen to each other, they create an alignment of purpose that produces incredible ability to invent new possibilities in conversation and bring about these possibilities in reality. There must be sufficient meeting time scheduled into people’s professional calendars to step back from the day-to-day operations and reflect on what is happening in the program. It is important for highly-effective leaders to understand that ideas can be developed best through dialog and discussion. Through dialog, people can predict and solve problems, replace obsolete systems, and create new systems.

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