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3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your District-Sponsored Afterschool Program

1,000 hours. That’s how long a child will spend in school each year. It’s not a lot. Fortunately, the school-student relationship doesn’t have to end there. Children enrolled in before and afterschool enrichment programs can spend as much as 1,000 extra hours in a school environment at no additional cost to the district.

With so many working parents demanding a safe and meaningful out-of-school time solution, districts can come to their rescue. With a bit of planning, your programs can be safe, meaningful, and affordable for you and your families.

Unfortunately, so many district-run afterschool programs look more like childcare or babysitting than meaningful student enrichment. There just isn’t the staff training, curriculum, or coaching necessary to ensure success for your students and afterschool staff. The good news is that districts now have choices to provide low-cost and meaningful programs right at school.  

The most common solution is to partner with an outside provider who can run your programs for you at no cost to your district. This is most typical for large districts in population-dense locations. Providers range from local community groups to organizations such as Right At School, who provides services at hundreds of schools across the nation.

At the same time, many schools—especially in smaller districts—prefer to run their own self-operated programs. If your school falls into this category, it is now possible to work with outside partners to make your programs safer, reduce teacher turnover, and improve the overall experience for students and families.

Here are a few ways you can strengthen your self-operated program while leveraging the resources of an afterschool care provider to get the most out of your extra 1,000 hours with students:

  1. Develop enrichment curriculum your students will love

Look for a provider who can deliver world-class enrichment curriculum with a focus on Social Emotional Learning. A great afterschool partner will license the tools you need to incorporate structured activities into your self-operated program. With the right curriculum, it’s possible to immerse kids in a world of fun while engaging their minds through daily enrichment units, homework help, fitness activities, free play, and self-guided creativity. You may even be able to access lesson plans, supplies, interactive videos, etc. to reduce stress on your program staff and ensure the best experience for students.

  1. Provide training to reduce staff turnover and improve child safety

High turnover can hinder your efforts to build trust with parents and ensure a consistent standard of care. That’s why you should look for providers who will help you train and invest in the professional development of your personnel. The best afterschool partners are willing to license their existing online trainings covering topics like positive guidance, program safety, and more. This comes with an added benefit—your staff will be better equipped to cultivate a safe and nurturing environment, granting parents and school administrators true peace of mind.

  1. Offer live coaching from expert educators

Afterschool educators need a support system, and one of the best ways to improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover is to provide meaningful feedback and encouragement from knowledgeable peers. Ask your potential afterschool partner if they would be willing to offer one-on-one coaching and site visits to provide real-time feedback and support. Your staff will see all the benefits of professional, personalized coaching from afterschool programming experts without stretching the resources of overburdened school administrators.

By partnering with a qualified afterschool care provider, your team will be equipped to transform those extra 1,000 hours into something truly special for kids, parents, and educators alike.

Our organization, Right At School, has been providing these services across the country since 2011.  

Whether you might benefit from outsourcing the entire afterschool enrichment program (at no cost to the district) or simply licensing our curriculum, training, and year-long coaching for your own district-run program, we are here to help.

If your school or district manages its own out-of-school programs and wants to improve your curriculum, training and coaching, please visit to learn how we can help. Or, if you’re looking to outsource the whole program to a partner, please visit to learn how more than 400 schools across the country are doing this.  

Either way, it’s vital that afterschool be more than an afterthought—those extra 1,000 hours are too important to ignore.