The importance of high-quality after-school and summer programming is well understood. This is particularly important during the summer months, as many students experience the "Summer Slide" - see video below.
Fortunately, high-quality after-school and summer programming - also referred to as extended learning programs - have been a growing focus here in Santa Fe. For parents who work full-time, enrolling their children in programs after school or during the summer provides a safe environment and childcare. In addition, most of these programs offer more than just childcare; they offer experiential and academic learning. It’s also important to make sure there are programs that are accessible for families along the entire income spectrum. According to a study by John Hopkins University, “during the summer months children living in low-resource communities who are not engaged in activities tend to fall into a ‘summer slide,’ while their peers from more economically advantaged communities build skills that will help them succeed.”
Continued education during out-of-school time is important for continued growth for students of all ages.The 21st Century Community Learning Center Program is one extended learning program found within Santa Fe Public Schools. The program offers accessible programs for families in Santa Fe at 14 schools within the area. They provide experiential learning through curriculums created by Santa Fe Community Educators Network participants, along with providing homework help for students and snacks/meals during after school time. Over 95% of the students who participate in this program are students receiving free or reduced lunch, according to the Spring 2017 report by Mary Massey of SFPS. The feedback and data from the year affirmed that this program is necessary and needed here in Santa Fe. Participant goals from the Fall 2016 (Quarter 1) and Spring 2017 (Quarter 3) were consistently surpassed throughout language arts and math with improved or maintained grades. Importantly, 84% of students believe this program helps them do better in school, and 96% of parents believe that the program fits the needs of their family.
From furthering academics to meeting family needs, more time in after-school programs is beneficial to the whole family. 21st Century Community Learning Center has been able to expand through this summer to offer programming at three public schools within Santa Fe during regular school hours.
This is only one program within Santa Fe offering high-quality extended learning for students,but plenty more programs are out there. After school and summer extended learning programs are found at many different organizations like Wise Fool New Mexico, ARTsmart, Boys and Girls Club. The City of Santa Fe offers their Summer Youth Program with some sites having programming made by the Santa Fe Community Educators Network and Girls Inc., while Santa Fe Public Schools offer summer school, K3plus and enrichment programs from Scrub Club to Hands-On Heritage. From the summer time through the school year, Santa Fe is really focusing on providing extended learning for many families in the city – and our children will be all the better for it!