School children hanging out in the school yard.

Helping working families, keeping kids safe, and inspiring learning: afterschool works. That was the message Halie Gier, Youth Afterschool Ambassadors from Eldon, Mo., brought with her during her trip to Washington D.C. Gier has been living this message for the past six years and had the honor to tell policymakers why afterschool programs are important and how they work for her family.

Gier’s father is a single parent of six. He works in turkey barns and never knows when he will be called into work. Like most parents, he continually stresses about what is best for their family. Without afterschool, Gier and her siblings would have not had the opportunities they have now.

Colorful numbers background minimal creative concept.

Just as in language arts, where readers are eventually supposed to recognize about 200 common words on sight without having to sound them out, students are expected to also be able to do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems almost automatically.

To help reinforce those fundamentals, Strong School has been running “math bees” throughout the year. Along with a new teaching method, added afterschool tutoring and a slew of other programs, those drills have helped the school nearly double its math proficiency rates in one year, even if three-quarters still are not where the state wants them to be.

Close Up Of Landscape Gardener Laying Turf For New Lawn

It is not only low-skilled factory workers whose jobs are being lost to automation; it is also many of what used to be middle-skill, middle-income jobs. This trend is leading to a “hollowing out” of the job market, with fewer jobs that require a medium skill level and at one time provided middle America with a living wage.

What remain are a smaller number of high-skill, high-income, “high-tech” jobs and lots of low-skill, low-income, “high-touch” jobs. “High-tech” jobs are engineers, software designers, architects and scientists. These jobs require college degrees or higher. “High-touch” jobs that are plentiful are farmworkers, food service personnel, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, landscape workers, security personnel, and cleaning and janitorial workers.

Landscape blue yellow nature blurred background.Panorama field sunshine view.Ukranian flag abstract wallpaper.Summer design blossom meadow backdrop.

National Summer Learning Week is a celebration dedicated to elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year. This year, each day will focus on a new theme: Literacy, STEM, Arts, College and Career Readiness, and Nutrition and Wellness.

Join PSAYDN as we acknowledge the vital importance of summer learning. Post the Governor’s Summer Learning Week Proclamation and Senate Resolution at the entrance to your program. Inform parents and staff about the significance in having children and youth learn in an informal setting.

A female middle school student concentrates while using a digitized pen during a design class. She is sitting in front of a computer monitor.

Afterschool programs like Schools and Homes in Education (SHINE) in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, give elementary and middle school students the opportunity to explore and prepare for different careers by delivering developmentally appropriate curriculum. They are effective in building student’s academic and technical skills as well as social and emotional development, including employability skills like teamwork, communication and critical thinking. In fact, 77% of parents nationally agree that afterschool programs can help students develop workforce skills. These programs can reinforce and strengthen learning in the classroom and should be critical partners for Career Technical Education programs or other career-focused learning.

Based on brain research that is still in the early stages, it has shown that, when it comes to learning, space matters. A space that allows for movement can reduce student fatigue, improve performance and promote student collaboration.

Barrett’s study of 153 U.K. classrooms in 27 schools found that adjusting particular classroom characteristics — light and temperature, the amount of flexibility and student choice — boosted academic performance in reading, writing and math by 16 percent over the course of a year. A quarter of that improvement was attributed to letting students decide when to get up and where to sit. In 2016, a study using brain imaging to examine the effects of standing desks on high school students revealed improvements in working memory as well as in students’ ability to plan, organize and finish tasks.

PSAYDN at Center for Schools and Communities
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