When it comes to starting and operating an after school program, there are two broader aspects that you need to lock down to set yourself up for success.
First of all, you have the task of getting your after school program off the ground and running. This includes the financial, logistical, and educational aspects of running an after school program. After that comes making sure the day-to-day operations are smooth, keeping up with the demands, and squashing any issues as they present themselves.
6 Key Factors to Consider for a Succesful After School Program
Let’s dive into 6 key factors that are crucial for starting and operating your after school program.
1. Securing a designated space
When choosing the location for your after school program, keep travel and convenience in mind. For convenience, securing a location for your program that’s close to the school system where your prospective students are enrolled. It should be readily accessible to the parents as well.
There are a lot of possibilities for what compromised the actual space. Your program could use a variety of spaces by scheduling them ahead of time, or you could opt for a permanent location. Local libraries, churches, or rec centers are just a few of the potential options.
2. Creating a business plan
Identifying what type of plan will work best for you and the families you work with is a crucial step in starting an after school program. You should be completely aware of the market you are entering and build a business plan that is based on the needs of the community. Establishing the trust of the community doesn’t come easy but providing a prominent service on a strong foundation will create interest.
When you are deciding what your programs identify will be, local parents can be a resource. The business plan you build around should fulfill a niche in the community.
3. Building out a curriculum
Building a curriculum for your after school program is the natural next step in determining what service or value you are providing the community. There should be a diverse set of options to appease a collection of age-groups. There is an increasing demand for enrichment during out-of-school time and programs are beginning to shift their curriculum to fulfill that need.
Consider the basics like art, music, math, and science, and supplement those educational aspects with recreational activities and free time. It’s important to not force your students into an activity that they aren’t interested in. After all, this isn’t school. If you spend your energy and resources trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole, the curriculum will be ineffective and your after school program won’t be successful.
4. Supporting your staff with up-to-date technology
Managing a room full of students isn’t for those who lack patience or ambition. Supplementing the growing pains that come with operating an after school program with technology can simplify your after school operations from top to bottom.
Investing in a technologically advanced after school program has a variety of advantages. A few that come to mind are:
- Keeping students occupied and entertained
- Easing common stresses that come with running an after school program
- Attracting the interest of young parents
By making technology a focus and integrating operations, your staff will be able to focus on providing the students with an environment that promotes growth rather than spending too much time on the organizational clutter.
5. Maintaining a safe and secure environment
Ensuring the safety of your students is priority number one. Regardless of your location, you must provide a secure learning environment and a trusted place for parents to leave their child during work hours. Safety during out-of-school time is the primary concern of parents, and secondary to enrichment.
After school programs are meant to provide a safe and secure place where kids can go on a regular basis when schools are not in session. There is security hardware that can assist you along the way, but the premises should be scanned for health hazards daily, and most importantly, the kids should trust your staff.
6. Surrounding yourself with qualified staff
An after school program needs to fulfill the needs of students. Unless you plan on running the show solo, surrounding yourself with a qualified and passionate staff will make everything easier. Your needs will be more apparent once you have an idea of what the plan of attack is, including your business plan and preferred curriculum.
Staffing can be done through job postings, recruiting or word-of-mouth. However, once they are in the building and on your payroll, making sure everybody is on the same page will lead to smooth sailing for you, your staff, and the families involved.
There is a lot of planning that goes into starting an after school program. Getting the doors open and running the show have their unique challenges. Following the guidelines above will give you an idea of what type of structure and what level of planning is needed if you want to build a thriving after school program.
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