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After School Programs and Homework

after school program, homework

After school programs are becoming more and more popular, and it's no wonder: these programs can be a true godsend for the millions of American families without a parent or relative available to pick up a child from school in the middle of the afternoon.

As a parent, your first concern regarding any after-school program is safety.

- Are the students safe and well-supervised?

- Are the staff members fingerprinted, their backgrounds checked and cleared before hiring?

- How do students get to the program from their classrooms?

- Is there a procedure for parents picking up their children? Do parents sign in, show ID?

- Are all of the site entrances locked and/or guarded?

- What happens if a child gets hurt or sick?

- Is an adult front and center to make certain that safety rules and procedures are followed?

Once those questions have been answered, it's time to see how the after-school program handles homework.

Not All After School Programs
Are the Same

There are different types of after-school programs, and each type will have its own homework philosophy, goals and focus. For some programs, homework will be a priority, but for others, fun and recreation or enrichment activities such as art, music or dance may take center stage.

An after school program may be sponsored by a

  • Private company
  • School
  • District
  • Community organization
  • Church
  • YMCA or YWCA
  • Library (usually very homework focused!)
  • Government agency
  • Boys or Girls club

    How do you know if homework is a priority at your after school progam?

    • Does the program mention homework in its brochure, website and materials? Do they say it is a priority? If they don't mention homework, it's probably not a priority.

    • Does the program have dedicated space and time to complete homework? There should be a homework area (a separate room is ideal) for students to work on their homework. This environment should be quiet and free from distractions (usually those students not doing homework!).

    • Does the program have proper homework materials, supplies? Paper, pencils, reference books?

    • Does the program have an adult supervising the homework area? An adult staff member should be available to answer questions, to make certain that no copying (cheating) is taking place and to keep students focused on finishing their work.

    If the program seems to do a fair job with homework, consider allowing your child to do his "easy" homework and save the important homework for home. For example, my daughter sometimes did those (silly) math and spelling worksheets at the after-school program, but saved reading and projects for home.

    If the after school homework program is not up to snuff, please don't insist that your child participate. Wrong, rushed, sloppy, copied homework is really a waste of time. Let your child spend the afternoon playing, relaxing, and eating a snack. He will be in a much better mood to do his homework later.

    When trying to decide if your child should do his homework at the after school program, please consider his unique personality. Some children need a break right after school, while others have no problem doing their homework immediately.

    Give your child the Homework Personality Quiz to determine if after school programs and homework are a good match for them

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