Successful after school programs provide an environment for creative learning experiences and unique socialization opportunities in a setting that can be less rigid than their regular schooling or daily care provider.
There are well-reported benefits of after school programs to back this up. According to the Afterschool Alliance’s 2018 Fact Sheet, 65% of students improve their homework completion and class participation after going to after school programs, and 8 in 10 parents say after school programs give them peace of mind and help them keep their jobs.
By organizing and leading after-school programs, child care providers are delivering an invaluable resource for parents who find themselves in need of extended supervision during the week.
We believe that each year presents your program with new opportunities for development, and software can be the catalyst for improving how you manage your after school program.
One Step At a Time: Growing Your After School Program
As you work your way through the second half of this school year, analyze and reflect on your successes and failures. Test new ideas, adjust your strategy when necessary, and consider the behind-the-scenes factors that might open the door for new opportunities.
Ask yourself, how did this year go? What needs to be done to enrich your program and better serve students and parents? Last but not least, ask yourself what needs to be done to take that next step.
Take these questions into consideration, and the answers should point you in the right direction. Understanding what brought success in the past, and what led to your organizational shortcomings, can help you understand the overall health of your after school program.
With your eyes set on next year, identify challenging, but reachable, goals, and map out the path for reaching them. After school programs have proven to be valuable tools for accelerating early childhood development, and you have a chance to help build your student’s foundational skills.
5 Ways to Enrich Your After School Program
How will you go about improving the after school experience for your next group of students? To help you take that next step, we have put together a list of 5 ways to enrich your after school program.
1. Update your registration strategy.
Registration might be your first chance to make a real impression on parents by putting your attention to detail on full display. It also gives you the opportunity to gather any pertinent child information that will come in handy over the course of their time in your program.
This includes information like emergency contacts, immunization tracking, and allergy lists. You can then digitally organize all of that data in the Procare Cloud.
2. Move towards web-based schedules and templates.
Parents are looking for a program that provides transparency and visibility into the type of after school activities you are offering when their child is in your care. By creating online schedules that are viewable and updatable for parents, they can choose the activities for their child, and you will be alerted when any updates are made.
After-school activities are meant to drive engagement and create bonds amongst the students in your care. By integrating the parents into your scheduling process you help ensure that your program delivers valuable experiences.
3. Introduce new and engaging activities.
By gathering input from parents and reviewing the participation numbers for your array of activities, you gain valuable child care insights that make this next step a walk in the park. Take a look back at what your most and least popular activities were over the course of the last year and decide which can be developed further and what needs to be done to make the underperforming options more valuable.
Don’t fall into a rhythm just because something worked in the past. Leverage parent communication, scheduling data, and gauge the interest of students in your program to help better develop the students under your care.
4. Make payments easier for parents.
From your point of view as the provider, automating the child care billing processes will leave more time for focusing on the kids in your care.
On the parent’s side, after school programs provide further developmental opportunities for their children, but it’s yet another layer of child care that they pay for and plan for in their day-to-day lives. There’s a lot to gain by helping them simplify the process of making payments.
Digital payment processing puts the bill at their fingertips on their mobile device while offering individual point-of-sale (POS) credit card payments, recurring charges to credit cards, and auto drafts from their checking or savings accounts.
5. Communicate with parents and engage the local community.
If you are looking to expand your after school program and you can handle it from an organizational perspective, openly communicating that to parents who are enjoying the services you offer will help promote your program. According to the Afterschool Alliance 2018 Fact Sheet, for every student in after school programs, two more would participate if a program were available. That tells us there is plenty of opportunity in the after school space. The demand undoubtedly exists.
Building your local reputation through positive parent communication and a streamlined digital experience can be the precursor to finding more students to participate in your program.
Delivering a high-quality after school experience requires a lot of moving parts working in sync. A well-organized and well-staffed program can take any issue in stride, but there is more to learn about the demands and expectations of parents.
As you work through the remainder of this year and look forward to your next group of students, improving your program should be at the top of mind. We are here to help you identify challenging, but reachable, goals, for your after school program, and our tips for enrichment should help along the way.
Looking for ways to automate and organize the administrative and business functions of your after school program? Learn how Procare can help.