The 21st Century Community Learning Centers LEARN Afterschool program promotes a positive learning experience and give students a safe place to connect with their peers outside of regular school hours. Working with these students in an afterschool setting is an eye opening experience. The program has such a positive impact on students not only academically but also socially and emotionally as well. These students are enthusiastic and curious to explore science, technology, engineering, arts and culture, and math. Although many students have a natural interest in these topics, they rarely get to explore them in student-driven, hands on way. The LEARN program gives them an opportunity where their interest is fostered and supported by encouraging adults.
More often than not, some students do not view school as a positive aspect in their life. Students may struggle in core subjects due to the way it is presented to them. They do not grasp concepts because they think they have no importance to the real world. Some school teachers do not have the time or resources to expose STEM related activities during the school day but our program’s sole purpose it just that. Through participation of the LEARN program, these students have the opportunity to learn and explore some of the most innovative technology available today. They are able to design, construct, implement and troubleshoot. Failure is a learning process and part of life. At our program, we are able to encourage the steps needed to fix mistakes. These students strive because they are not feeling the pressures of grades and test scores during this part of their day.
The activities that we take part in day-to-day allow these students to engage in concepts that they are truly interested and pertain to real life. Giving students’ learning a purpose with real life outcomes is motivating and exciting. They view these outcomes as successes making them want to participate to learn even more and engages them in the next activity. As the school year progresses and they gain a sense of self through each lesson, they become more independent. Their growth and success leads them to find confidence in themselves and have a sense of pride in their finished products and inventions. They develop skills to improve academically by using our 21st CCLC skills like problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork that we promote every day in our lesson planning.