Strong attendance numbers are the sign of a successful after-school program. It means that your program is inclusive, interesting, and valuable for children and parents alike. On the other hand, chronic absences continue to harm the development of young children.
How Chronic Absences Effect Early Childhood Development
Chronic absence – students who miss 10 percent of the academic year – limit a child’s ability to make valuable connections with adults and other kids. Not only that, but it puts a limit on the potential academic value that an after school program can provide.
If your program is well staffed, with open lines of communication for parents, any issues can be taken in stride, but there is more to learn regarding how you can help improve attendance at your after school program.
Attending school regularly, and expanding on those experiences at an after school program, can help children develop the academic and social skills that they need to thrive later in life.
Below, we examine the wide-ranging impact of after school attendance before jumping into how you can improve your program.
The Extensive Impact of After School Attendance
According to an Attendance Works report, chronic absence affects more than one out of four children. The impact of chronic absences at the preschool level and can leave third graders unable to read proficiently, and sixth graders who will struggle with coursework.
The importance of attendance in early childhood development can’t be understated, and your after school program can help promote attendance at their daytime programs.
A cohesive, unified after school experience can provide children with a sense of belonging and make learning fun. If you are dealing with attendance issues, they likely stem from a more significant problem that leads to low turnout during daytime programs too.
Nonetheless, a strong and engaging after school program will make children more eager to attend.
6 Tips for Improving After School Attendance
1. Analyze Your Strengths & Weaknesses
Ask yourself, are you providing children and parents with a well-rounded program? If not, some improvements might be needed to improve attendance.
An after school programs is a place for further learning, socializing and, perhaps most importantly, having fun. Understanding where your after school program stands is invaluable.
Every program has their strengths and weaknesses, but child care providers that are continually looking for new ways to provide more value for everybody involved with the program are going to be the most successful in the long run. Those are the programs that will continue to develop, and attendance will rise as a result.
2. Build a Culture for Learning & Fun
Nothing can improve attendance at an after school program quite like a fun, constructive, and laid-back culture.
If you make learning and socializing fun, children will want to be in attendance. When the results start to show, parents will also pick up on the value of your after school program.
As a child care provider, you should focus on supporting the natural path for early childhood development, while applying the necessary course corrections along the way. In some ways, an influential, positive culture will make that more natural than ever, and you will be able to keep students engaged daily.
3. Track Attendance Data & Be Proactive
If you are relying on a system of manual attendance tracking, with family files spread out across your facility or office, gaining visibility into your program will be a long road.
Striving to improve attendance at your after school program starts with an understanding of where you currently stand.
Tracking data and family records and analyzing what it all means will provide you with insights and visibility into the health of your program, so that you can make informed decisions to improve attendance.
4. Offer Unique Experiences
Building up your program so that it’s fully optimized to provide the best experiences possible for children might take time. While you are traveling down that winding path, focus on making each day a unique experience.
Whether it’s a learning situation or an opportunity to socialize, recognize that each child is different, and provide activities that appeal to a diverse set of interests. It’s on you to make everybody feel at home.
5. Connect on Social Media
The most direct way to improve attendance at your after school program is by finding new ways to connect with parents. Sharing updates with parents of the children in your program will keep them involved and encourage attendance.
If you are providing unique, valuable experiences for children at your after school program, social media can help boost your attendance numbers just by making your work more visible and keeping parents updated.
6. Integrate Parents Into the Experience
Providing elite care for the children at your after school program is the main focus. However, parents are your customers and decision makers, and integrating them into the experience will improve attendance.
That starts with communication. By eliminating any communication issues, your after school program will become an integral part of not only the child’s day, but their parents as well.
Leveraging capabilities like digital payment processing will put the bill at their fingertips on their mobile device, and engaging parents with daily reports, photos and activity information will make them feel a part of your program.
Early childhood development will have a lasting effect on children under your care, and you have an opportunity to improve their skills each day. Your after school program will provide students with opportunities that might not be available during the school day. However, there won’t be as many valuable experiences if attendance numbers are low and you won’t get the most out of your effort to enhance their after school experience.
Looking to simplify your after school program operation and improve attendance? Learn how Procare can help with everything from enrollment to scheduling, payments, billing, and more.