For the best chance to be successful in school, children need safe, healthy and positive afterschool time.
Parents play a key role. They are the first and most important teachers of their kids. It’s crucial for them to be involved in their kids’ afterschool lives, even if they can’t explain the math homework. Studies show that children with parents who have an active role in their education do better in school and in relationships.
When children get home from school, ask them questions about their day. Your interest is important to them and builds a bond. Asking questions is also a sign that school is important to you and should be to them. To get the conversation going, try to use open-ended questions rather than ones that will end up with yes or no answers. You can ask questions like: “What’s the difference between this year and last year?” or “What was the best part of your day?”
Most important, be a great listener. Put your smartphone away while your child is talking. Give them your undivided attention, and don’t interrupt them once they start talking. Give them eye contact and respond with short responses like “Really?” or “That’s interesting” or “No kidding!” Your child’s confidence will grow.
Explore Afterschool Programs
As any working parent can tell you, the need for a safe learning environment doesn’t end with the regular school day. But beyond simple childcare, Tennessee’s Extended Learning and Afterschool programs offer activities that boost education and make learning fun. Many afterschool programs are designed to support and strengthen their students’ regular classwork. These programs cover core subjects such as reading, math and science. They also may offer chances to explore new interests and develop healthy habits.
Learn about Tennessee’s Family Resource Centers, which help at-risk children whose families may be dealing with poverty, hunger, or other issues.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services offers an online search tool to help parents find options for afterschool programs in their communities.
Be Active After School
Healthy afterschool activities are important to children’s growth as students and their physical fitness. They also help them develop skills they can use in relationships with other kids and adults. It’s not healthy for children to stay in their rooms for long periods of screen time (television, video games, smartphones, social media). Make sure they are active and involved in afterschool activities.
Here are some ways for your child to get the most from their afterschool time:
- Join a reading group at the library.
- Make fun crafts or do art activities.
- Schedule a weekly get-together with kids in the neighborhood. They can come over for crafts or games.
- Create a reading game that rewards your child. If they read a certain number of books within a specific amount of time, they receive awards.
- Check your local YMCA, church or community center for fun and healthy afterschool programs.
- Get involved in community service. High school kids can be mentors and tutors for younger children, middle school children on other high school students. In doing this important work, they will get great rewards themselves.
The Homework Hotline provides one-on-one free tutoring by phone to Tennessee students and parents. The hotline is available from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Central Time Monday through Thursday from the second week of August until the third week of May. Call: 615-298-6636. Toll free: 1-888-868-5777.
Learn about Lottery for Education: Afterschool Programs (LEAPS).
Learn about 21st century learning centers
Consider other fun ways to strengthen family bonds.
Make an impact as your child’s advocate. Parent advocates can act as mentors in the classroom, share their skills with other parents, and organize events for children and families.
Create a My Profile account to see developmental milestones based on your child’s age and to get tips for supporting healthy development.