Choosing a School Age Program
Guides to Choosing the Right Quality Programs
The latest science tells us that the early years of life matter because early experiences affect a child’s brain development. Like the construction of a house, brains are built from the bottom up, with early experiences setting the foundation for the rest of development. High-quality early care, education and after school programs help children grow socially, emotionally, and physically and enter school ready to learn.
After School Programs
How to Choose a Quality Program
- Characteristics: Think about the type of after school program that would best serve your child and family’s needs, such as hours, activities offered, etc.
- Search for programs that meet your needs: Contact a BrightStars referral specialist at 1-855-398-7605 or search online.
- Narrow your search: Once you have a list of after school programs narrow your search by contacting the programs and asking questions to make sure they meet your needs.
- Visit the programs: After you have narrowed your list, schedule appointments to visit the programs and bring your child with you. Seeing a site in person and asking questions can be crucial to help you make the correct decision.
What Does Quality Look Like?
After School Programs
Summer learning programs are important to a child’s year-round learning experience. The reason is simple: Most children, regardless of socioeconomic status, lose up to two months of grade-level equivalency in math if they spend their summers not engaged in any form of learning. Low income children also experience a loss in reading achievement.
The Summer Slide
Summer learning programs are designed to help offset the “summer slide” that occurs when children are not engaged in active learning opportunities.
Access Your Community
High-quality summer learning programs often take advantage of the treasures of their community (e.g., parks libraries, rivers, and streams) well, allowing for further exciting opportunities.
What You Can Do
Even if you aren’t able to access a summer learning program for your child, you can still play a big part in your child’s learning over the summertime. Fun trips to the beach, the museum, the local market, or the library can not only help build language and simple math skills, but also support important skills like communication and creative thinking. The Rhode Island After school Plus Alliance (RIASPA) maintains a summer learning map that contains over 150 summer learning programs occurring across the state.
After School Program Checklist
How do you determine which program is best for you and your family? Bringing this checklist along when visiting programs may help you. We also encourage families to ask child care programs whether they have earned or are working toward national accreditation or BrightStars Quality Rating.
- Are the indoor and outdoor spaces for children safe and free of hazards?
- Are there procedures for handling emergencies?
- Do adults and children wash their hands before eating or handling food and after using the bathroom?
- Are children and youth exposed to math and reasoning, language and reading, and science or nature activities?
- Do children and youth have the opportunity to learn new skills and work on long-range projects?
- Do children and youth have frequent opportunities to be active both indoors and outdoors?
- Do staff have any formal education and professional preparation to work with school-age children?
- Does the program director have any formal education & professional preparation to manage the program and to work with school-age children?
- Does the program welcome families any time the children are in care?
- Does the program provide parent-staff conferences?
- Does the program make families aware of program policies and practices?