It should come as no surprise that after school programs have been found to have a profound impact on students’ lives and learning. Just because the school day has ended doesn’t mean kids can’t keep engaging in meaningful activities that expand their knowledge base, teach them new skills and prepare them to be productive citizens once they are done with their secondary education.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education has been tracking the implementation of after school programs across the country for more than a decade. There has been steady growth in the number of these programs, which is fueled by the fact that they produce significant results and have huge benefits. The hours between 3pm and 6pm are critical for young adults. During those three hours is when juvenile crime is most likely to happen, kids are most likely to be victimized and car crashes for 16-17 year olds are at their highest. Giving them something productive to do in those hours is the best way to deter problems before they happen.
Through evaluating hundreds of after school programs across the country the Harvard Family Research Project has discovered that after school programs:
- Improve students’ outlook and opinion of academics
- Increase their desire for academic achievement
- Heighten attendance rates
- Lowers tardiness
- Decrease the need for disciplinary actions
- Improve test scores and grades
- Better homework completion
- Deepen students’ engagement in learning
- Increase avoidance of drug and alcohol use
- Decrease violent behavior
It’s no longer a question of whether we should have after school programs but how we’ll keep on expanding them so that more students can realize these benefits.
After School Programs at Pro-Vision Academy
It was an after school program that actually started it all at Pro-Vision Academy. The Manhood Development Program began more than two decades ago under the leadership of Pro-Vision founder Roynell Young. The after school program was geared towards young men in the Houston community that needed male mentorship. The program offered tutoring and other activities, but the real mission was to provide guidance and build moral character in the young men. Over the years the program has grown, and now male students of Pro-Vision Academy work with mentors and participate in community activities that keep them on the right path.
Another unique program that is offered in conjunction with the Manhood Development Program is the Urban Farm Program. Students participate in the school’s private urban farm learning everything from horticulture to marketing to the health benefits of fresh produce. The earth is the after school classroom, and Mother Nature is one of the teachers.
Students who complete the Manhood Development Program are given a spot in the Job Enterprise Academy. While job opportunities for teens shrink in general, the academy is ensuring that Pro-Vision students have the ability to take part in summer work that helps prepare them for the workforce and gain valuable skills they can use later in their career. The program is made possible by corporate partners that provide both white collar and blue collar summer jobs for the students.
There are also sports, music and dance programs that are aimed at keeping kids active and engaged throughout the day. It’s something that Pro-Vision charter school has invested in from the beginning and will keep growing in the future.