Identifying a quality out-of-school time program for your kids

Out-of-school time (OST) – those hours before or after school or during the summer and other breaks – is often times a lost opportunity. For many parents, the gap between their work schedules and the regular school schedule or the challenge of finding a program to fill Spring Break or other vacations can be daunting.

Studies show this is where many can fall behind, since this time amounts for 76 percent of a students’ waking hours. Among other things, our Target Graduation program focuses on improving OST and helping parents find quality programs.

1.1 million Texas children are left unsupervised after school for an average of 7 hours per week

Not only do OST programs provide a safe place for children and youth, they also have a positive impact on academic and non-academic skills. This is a time children begin to explore career options, develop team building and leadership skills, in addition to just having fun. So we asked our experts how parents could maximize this time for their children.

You can improve your child’s education with quality out-of school programs that include:

  • A tangible product or performance that reflects the youths ideas
  • Trying out new skills with support from program staff
  • Direction from program staff, answering questions and working as part of a team
  • Team building activities and ice breakers that help develop a sense of belonging
  • Taking responsibility and contributing to the final product or performance
  • Teaching their peers and lead events
  • Making some decisions about topics, roles, order of activities or materials
  • An opportunity to reflect, whether it is writing in a journal, sharing progress, or giving feedback about the activity

If you are a parent, the next time you pick up your child from their OST program ask how the program is putting these elements into practice. These hours are a tremendous part of a student’s life, have a significant impact on their future but are also important for parents: Research shows parents miss an average of eight days of work per year due to a lack of afterschool care. In turn, the decreased worker productivity related to parental concerns about afterschool care can cost businesses up to $300 billion per year.

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