Service-Learning in Out-of-School Time
Studies show that three to six pm is the most dangerous time for youth. It is during these hours children become most likely to commit crime (juvenile crime triples during these hours), be the victims of crime, and participate in risky behaviors, including drug & alcohol abuse and sexual activity.
The sticky summer months offer little relief. The Rand Corporation reports that average summer learning loss in math and reading for American students’ amounts to one month per year. More troubling still is the fact that these statistics disproportionately affect low-income students who lose two months of reading skills on average while their higher-income peers make slight gains.
But change makers should not fear. There are simple holistic ways to turn these hours-of-need into vital hours of opportunity.
For anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of students—and who doesn’t?—service-learning offers a fun, easy and effective way to engage youth in positive activities that increase academic achievement, youth leadership, self-discipline, self-esteem, empathy, critical thinking, civic consciousness and civic engagement (to name a few). It also happens to be a perfect fit when operated during the hours in which youth are out of school.
There are few arenas that provide more opportunities to fully engage teachers, youth, parents and community members in hands-on learning without the time and content restrictions of the school day. Out-of-school time programs allow facilitators to dive into curriculum that connects school day learning to current global issues. These opportunities provide a medium through which youth can build, sharpen and put to use the skills that will not only prepare them for a global 21st century workforce, but skills that lead to successful civically engaged lives.
By connecting learning to current issues and encouraging youth to assess the needs in their communities, service-learning empowers youth to work together to affect positive change in themselves, their communities and the world.
Youth engaged in generationOn after school programming have done everything from building community playgrounds and partnering with social organizations to fund raise for people in need, to making restaurant menus healthier and writing to support legislation to get more produce into food deserts. So what are you waiting for?
Join me and learn how to build healthy communities at the Blaine House Conference at 1pm on Tuesday, October 11th. Now is the perfect time to incorporate service-learning into your after and summer school programming and empower youth to make their mark on the world.
Shammara Wright is Senior Manager of After-School Programs at generationOn where she manages service-learning programs in out-of-school time, helps build curriculum, develop trainings and coordinates relationships between schools, teachers, parents, and community-based organizations, Shammara recently presented at this years Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism in Bangor, Maine.