You have several options when it comes to choosing how and when to host after-school clubs: monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, or daily. I personally feel that hosting clubs monthly is too infrequent and disrupts the continuity of the children’s enjoyment and fulfillment with their club experiences. If however, your after-school program is full of other activities I would probably adopt a bi-weekly model (having a “Club” Day every other week.) For the purposes of this article I am going on to focus two models: weekly and daily, and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Hosting clubs daily – Each club is assigned a certain day of the week.
(Ex. Mon=Art Club, T= Superheroes Club, W=Scrapbooking Club, Th=Camping Club, F=Basketball Club)
- Many choices: this model offers children a variety of choices and attendance options.
- Back up staffing plan: If a Staff Member is absent and lesson plans are readily available it is fairly easy to have another Staff Member to lead the club for that day.
- More space and availability in clubs: Usually it is much easier to allow children to have their first choice club in this model. The club will be less impacted because they are not being hosted all on the same day. Also, as long as you provide sign ups well in advance of the club you can make sure there is enough materials and supervision for everyone.
- Its their choice: For all the club planning you do there are going to be kids that are worn out from the school day and just want to relax, play basketball, or read a book at an after school program. Perhaps they are part of a sports or dance team and this is the only part of their day they have for relaxing and talking to friends. In the daily model it is the kid’s choice. They can join a club or opt out.
- Lack of excitement: It may lack the excitement of having a “Super Club Day,” as in the weekly model.
- Missed opportunities: If kids only attend 2, 3, or 4 days a week they may lose out on joining their first choice club.
Hosting clubs weekly- One day of the week is known as “Club Day,” all clubs are hosted that day, simultaneously.
- Modified Day Schedules: Hosting clubs weekly can be a huge benefit if your school or center has any type of modified school day program where the children get out of school much earlier on a weekly basis; For instance a 11:25 release time as opposed to 2:00pm release time. Having a “Club Day” can help to make modified days more enjoyable and interactive for the children. It’s a promising alternative to adding movie/video game time.
- Very exciting environment: If you really advertise and pump up your Staff and encourage them to do the same kids will look forward to Club Day very much!
- Allows for more programming: Since clubs will only be held once a week you have plenty of opportunity to plan other programs and activities at your program that are not club related.
- Children may miss clubs: Some children have extracurricular activities or may only attend 2, 3 or 4 days a week. If clubs are offered only once a week many kids would lose out on having the opportunity to join a club.
- Staff Absences: If one or more Staff is absent on Club Day it can definitely impact the program. Being in ratio becomes the main priority, meaning staff won’t be able to spread out as much. This can possibly lead to canceling one or more clubs for the day. That in itself becomes a choice that will be hard on the children ~ which club do you cancel/reschedule? Or do you cancel all clubs that day and move them to another day?
- Limited Choices: Since all clubs are being led simultaneously there will likely need to be a limited number of spots in each club. This means kids may not get to choose their first choice club. Also, a child may not be interested in any of the clubs, and since there are only Club activities being offered that child may become bored.
Taking all of these points into consideration may help you to decide what model best fits your program. Originally, I used a weekly model myself, but due to concerns with staff absences, staying in ratio, and overall having a smaller number of staff and children a daily model has been a better fit for our program.
Do you have any other suggestions or tips on when clubs are hosted at your school? Please comment back! I’d love to hear from you.