ERIC Identifier: ED429737
Publication Date: 1999-05-00
Author: Coltin, Lillian
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Elementary and Early Childhood Education Champaign IL.
Enriching Children's Out-of-School Time. ERIC Digest.
School-age children between the ages of 5 and 14 spend up to 80% of their
time out of school. These hours represent an opportunity to help children grow
and acquire important social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills and to
help them develop lifelong interests. This time can also be used to provide
support for the academic challenges faced by children each day in school.
WHAT IS AN ENRICHMENT PROGRAM?
The National School-Age Care
Alliance (NSACA) Quality Standards (Roman, 1998) describe the best practices in
out-of-school time programs. The NSACA standards specify that "children [should]
have a chance to join enrichment activities that can promote basic skills and
higher-level thinking." Examples of enrichment activities include group work on
science projects, math games, and the study of plants and animals, and
opportunities to create a newspaper, write a play, tackle homework, use
computers, or participate in special interest groups or clubs. High-quality
programs also provide time and space for children to become involved in
long-term projects and productions (Roman, 1998).
This Digest examines two broad categories of enrichment
programs--extracurricular and academic enrichment--and discusses program funding
The theory of multiple
intelligences developed by Gardner (1993) broadens our view of how humans learn
and realize their potential. Classroom instruction focuses chiefly on
logical/mathematical intelligences. By tapping into the underutilized
intelligences, such as musical intelligence, extracurricular activities can
encourage the development of skills and interests not fully nurtured during the
school day. Extracurricular activities appear to provide leadership and social
skills development. These skills have been shown to lead to greater self-esteem
and higher aspirations in both current academic situations and in the pursuit of
long-term careers (Carns et al., 1995).
While lessons and extracurricular classes have always been a part of the
lives of affluent suburban children, more attention is now focused on the
importance of "enrichment" programming in the lives of all children (U.S.
Department of Education & U.S. Department of Justice, 1998).
Provision of extracurricular activities varies. After-school programs may
offer "extra" one-day-a-week clubs that encourage children to pursue a special
interest such as photography, chess, or hands-on math and science projects.
These activities may be provided by regular program staff, volunteers, or
invited "experts" from community museums, art centers, or music schools.
For example, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Art Moves Us program uses the
talents of more than 750 local youth, ages 7-23, to research, design, plan, and
render public murals. By contributing to a collaborative team of other youth and
adult artists, young people learn about the techniques of working in a
particular medium and transforming ideas about life in their community to images
that are displayed on public transportation and city vehicles (Heath &
Roach, 1998). The Virtual Y, a collaboration of the YMCA, schools, and the PTA,
has brought the Y's traditional curriculum to New York City schools. Grounded in
literacy-building activities, children also use the gym and other facilities
within the school building (U.S. Department of Education & U.S. Department
of Justice, 1998).
These creative partnerships between after-school programs, schools, and
community organizations are increasing the availability of extracurricular
activities for all school-age children.
Another way to challenge children and youth after school is to deepen their
learning about themselves, their community, and the world beyond. Mentoring and
service learning can provide youth with the opportunity to explore a variety of
work environments. In addition, students who have not performed well
academically in school may find an area in which they feel competent (Miller,
1998). Citizens Schools, a not-for-profit corporation, successfully combines
both mentoring and service. Through its Apprenticeship Curriculum, children work
directly with Boston's best performers, artisans, and tradespeople. These
mentors help youth to develop high-quality, useful products or inspirational
performances that are a service to their community (U.S. Department of Education
& U.S. Department of Justice, 1998).
ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS
Increasingly, parents want
after-school programs to provide homework help. O'Connor and McGuire (1998)
caution, however, that a balance between remedial tasks and informal learning is
needed to motivate and challenge children. After a full school day, children
need time to blow off steam, have snacks, play with friends, and build
consistent relationships with caring and competent adults. These hours provide
not only a time to address the day-to-day needs of completing homework and
practicing academic skills, but also an opportunity to develop talents and
hobbies to enrich children's lives over the long term. LA's BEST--"Better
Educated Students for Tomorrow"--takes the mandate of "balance" seriously. While
the overall program goal is to increase educational achievement for 5,000
children in the Los Angeles Unified School District, many enrichment activities,
involving computers, music, science fairs, camping, video productions, and field
trips, are offered. A 1995 study by the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation
found that children participating in LA's BEST showed more improvement in grades
than children in a control group (Brooks, Mojia, & Land, 1995).
At a time when basic skills development, calls for academic excellence, and
standardized testing are increasingly in the forefront of school reform,
academic enrichment programs are increasing in number. Voyager, Sylvan Learning
System's Mindsurfing USA, and EXPLORE are for-profit companies providing school
districts with prepackaged, school-led or teacher-led curricula that can extend
the school day for up to 3 hours. The military, the largest provider of
out-of-school time programs, has also established homework centers as part of
the mentoring, intervention, and support services provided to children and youth
during parental work hours. The training of program staff and volunteers to
implement these academic programs is key for their success. The BELL Foundation,
which provides tutoring for low-income children, requires tutors to attend a
2-day orientation plus monthly training workshops (O'Connor & McGuire,
Enrichment programs are usually fee based and most
accessible to middle- and upper-income families. The MOST (Making the Most of
Out-of-School Time) Initiative, however, has demonstrated that community
collaboration can increase options to extend out-of-school time opportunities to
all children. The cities of Boston, Chicago, and Seattle have developed
innovative funding strategies to support enrichment programs (Halpern,
Spielberger, & Robb, 1998). For example, the Boston 2:00-to-6:00 Initiative
supported new programs located in the public schools, leveraged over $3 million
from public and private sources to help expand the number of children served,
and worked with the Private Industry Council to create over 600 after-school
jobs for high school students.
Tucson's Art WORKS, a summer job training program for at-risk teens,
illustrates how the budgets of various public agencies may be redirected to
support an arts program. A recent Art WORKS project aimed at improving public
housing neighborhoods paid youth to design, construct, and install 100 mosaics
on the exterior of a 34-unit apartment building, permanently replacing the
graffiti that plagued the complex. The following funding streams support this
program: Tucson Transportation Department, Community Development Block Grant,
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Housing Rehabilitation
Funds, Drug Prevention Funds, City of Tucson golf tax, School Title I funding
and construction budgets, Pima County Parks and Recreation, Highway User Revenue
Fund, and private corporations and foundations.
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, funded through the U.S.
Department of Education, enables schools to stay open longer; offers safe havens
for children; and provides intensive tutoring in basic skills, drug and violence
prevention, and counseling. The program also provides opportunities to
participate in supervised recreation; chorus, band, and the arts; technology
education; and programs and services for children and youth with disabilities. A
private partnership through the MOTT Foundation supports and trains the staff of
these programs (U.S. Department of Education & U.S. Department of Justice,
Out-of-school time programs provide
opportunities for young adolescents to learn skills that are not usually
acquired in school, such as athletic and artistic performance skills. Programs
may also extend and enrich academic skills by enabling participation in a debate
club or computer club. In some cases, these experiences lead to lifelong
interests or careers. But perhaps more importantly, the sense of competence and
affiliation that can flourish during out-of-school time provides the best reason
for enrichment programs (Miller, 1998).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Brooks, P. E., Mojia, C. M., & Land, R. E. (1995). Longitudinal study of LA's BEST after school education and
enrichment program, 1992-94. Los Angeles: Center for the Study of Evaluation,
University of California.
Carns, A., Carns, M., Wooten, H., Jones, L., Raffield, P., & Heitkamp, J.
(1995). Extracurricular activities: Are they beneficial? Texas Counseling
Association Journal, 23(2), 37-45.
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: The theory in practice. New York:
Halpern, R., Spielberger, J., & Robb, S. (1998). Making the Most of
Out-of-School Time, executive summary: Interim findings from an evaluation
conducted by Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. New
York: DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund.
Heath, S. B., & Roach, A. A. (1998). The arts in the nonschool hours.
Menlo Park, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Miller, B. (1998). Border zones: Out of school time and young adolescents.
Unpublished paper. Wellesley, MA: National Institute on Out-of-School Time.
O'Connor, S., & McGuire, K. (1998). Homework assistance and out-of-school
time: Filling the need, finding the balance. Wellesley, MA: National Institute
on Out-of-School Time.
Posner, J. K., & Vandell, D. L. (1994). Low-income children's
after-school care. Are there beneficial effects of after-school programs? Child
Development, 65(2), 440-456. EJ 483 924.
Roman, J. (Ed.). (1998). The NSACA standards for quality school-age care.
Boston, MA: National School-Age Care Alliance. (Also available:
Steinberg, J., Riley, D., & Todd, C. (1993). Preventing problem behaviors
and raising academic performance in the nation's youth: The impacts of 71
school-age child care programs supported by the CES Youth-at-Risk Initiative.
Urbana: University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin Center for Action
on the Family.
U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice. (1998). Safe and
smart: Making after-school hours work for kids. Washington, DC: U.S. Department
of Education, Partnership for Family Involvement in Education. ED 419 303. (Also