How to Support Education Outside the Classroom

Learning Continues Outside the Classroom

How your child spends his or her time outside of school can have a positive impact on his or her education, readiness for college, and more. Quality programs and activities can help improve student work and study habits, homework completion rates, and grades in school. These activities can also improve your child’s interest in school, level of self-esteem, and relationships with both peers and adults.
Students involved in programs and activities outside of school are more likely to do well in school and gain a greater variety of interests and skills. When children have strong relationships with others and are connected to groups, extracurricular activities, and social circles, they have a better understanding of how to function in healthy ways. These interactions help build connections with friends, learn from one another, and develop social skills.
There are many programs and activities available to your child, both during the school year and in the summer months. Some programs are free to parents. If a program has a fee, there may be scholarships to help cover the cost of the program. Other programs may offer different payment levels for your family based on your household income.

Before & After School Programs

School-Based Programs

Many schools offer after-school programs, from tutoring to sports, that can benefit your child’s development. Ask your child’s teacher or school administrator what programs are offered, how to register for those programs, and if there are waiting lists for any of them. Once your child begins a program, encourage him or her by showing interest in the program or activity. For example, you might set aside time each day to ask questions about the program and whether your child is enjoying the activity.

Community-Based Programs

If your child’s school does not offer after-school programs that meet your child’s interests or your family’s needs, you can search for additional programs offered in the community. These programs are often offered through religious or nonprofit organizations in your neighborhood. Some places that you may want to look are:
• The Boys and Girls Club
• The YMCA
• Boys Scouts / Girl Scouts
• Big Brother, Big Sister
• Faith-based organizations, such as local churches
• Volunteering programs at local community organizations

Summer Programs

During the summer months, students can lose a lot of knowledge they gained in the school year. You can help them be ready for the next grade level by making sure they do some learning activities during summer. Below are some ways that your child can remain engaged in learning over the summer:
School Programs – Your child’s school may offer tutoring, clubs, and sports during the summer. Contact your child’s school or school district to find out more.
• Community Programs – There are a variety of community and faith-based programs that offer summer activities and even overnight camps. For more information on community programs in your area, refer to the resources at the end of this section.
Volunteering – Summer is a perfect time to get your child involved in his/her community. Not only does this help your child develop career skills, it also can look great when your child is ready to apply for college.
• College Prep Programs – There are a variety of organizations and colleges that have summer programs, especially for high school students. There may be additional costs associated with these. However, many offer scholarships and financial aid to help with the cost. OneJump.org is a great resource for parents of teens and pre-teens looking for these types of programs. You may also find opportunities listed on the website of your local university or college.

At Home

There are also things you can do at home to support your child’s learning. This can be done after school, during the weekend, or during holiday breaks. There are a few ways you can approach this:
• Turn everyday activities into learning opportunities. Encourage your child’s curiosity by asking questions and having him/her describe details to you.
– For younger children, this may look like going for a walk with your child and asking them to tell you about the things he/she sees, hears, and smells on your walk. Talk about the stones, leaves, puddles, and insects you see and encourage your child to look closely and notice details.
– For middle and high school-aged children, ask your child about what he/she is learning in school. Have your child tell you about the books they are reading or the projects they are working on. Ask them questions and push for detail. This may help your child remember the lessons they learn each day in school while also showing your child you value their education.
• Utilize online resources. There are a variety of websites you can use to help your child learn at home:
– Khanacademy.org – Offers a wide range of activities, videos, and subjects for ALL grade levels.
– Brainpop.com – Watch free, 5-minute videos on a variety of topics.
– Freerice.com – Students can answer questions from a variety of subjects and each time they get a question correct they can donate rice to a family in need.
• Take trips to the library and museums. Local libraries usually offer free programs for students. Going to the library and picking out books together can show your child that reading is important. Local museums also offer free programs for children.
• Support learning throughout the summer.  Encourage your child to participate in some of the at-home activities listed below.
– Have your child read at least 20 minutes a day.
– Have your child get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day by playing a sport, going on walks, or playing outdoor games. An active body helps keep the brain healthy.
– Learn Something New or Create Something Together – This can be as simple as building with Legos, baking/cooking together, or learning how to play a new game. The key is to ensure that your child is continuing to learn new things throughout the summer.
Your child’s learning is not limited to the classroom. There are many activities outside of the school day to continue to develop your child’s skills. By supporting these activities, you are helping your child be more prepared for school, college, and a career.

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