The recent AT&T commercials still make me laugh. I love the joke about “queening my dishes” and how the girl describes what happens when you turn into a werewolf. I think I like these commercials because I enjoy kids’ sense of humor and their ability to keep things simple. In one of their “It’s Not Complicated: More is Better” commercials, the young girl makes it perfectly clear (smile) why more is obviously better.
This idea came to mind as I thought about why we need to make the necessary investments in our children’s out of school time. It makes sense not only because it constitutes more than 50% of their waking hours, but how our children spend that time has a considerable impact on their ability to experience success when they are in school between the hours of 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
In an era of hyper standardized testing and school accountability, we are pouring considerable resources into the “smaller piece of the pie” when we know that more is better. These investments in the school day are important but will likely have marginal returns on student performance while placing overwhelming demands and pressures on school-day teachers.
There Is Another Way
There is an abundance of research that demonstrates the many positive outcomes and benefits that result from quality after school and summer learning programs, particularly for students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Those include increased engagement in school, improved behaviors, better academic performance, and increased support for working families.
At Beyond the Bell-Harrisonburg, our students are demonstrating many of these positive outcomes too. You can find our results from the 2012-2013 school year on our website. This is in large part due to our ability to enroll, retain, and ensure high numbers of students attend on a daily basis throughout the year, with Beyond the Bell students gaining upwards of 200 hours (20%) of additional learning time during a typical school year.
More Is Better.
It is not complicated. More is better. More time for our students to…
· Build academic and social-emotional skills
· Improve their academic performance
· Access mentors and community resources
· Learn about college and career opportunities (and what they need to do to be on track)
The more young people who are on-track for on-time high school graduation and prepared for college and career opportunities, the more our community will be a safe and vibrant place, where we will want to live, work and play for many generations to come.