About The Afterschool Toolkit

The Vision

The best afterschool programs do two things: they engage students in fun activities that create a desire to learn, and they build on what students are learning during the school day to extend the knowledge they already have. But with large groups and varied ages, accomplishing both of these things is often easier said than done.

This toolkit is designed to give afterschool program directors and instructors the resources they need to build fun, innovative, and academically enriching activities that not only engage students, but extend their knowledge in new ways and increase academic achievement.

What You Get

From math and science to literacy and the arts, this toolkit has everything you need to engage students in fun afterschool activities while extending content knowledge across the curriculum. Each subject area is filled with standards-based multi-media resources including: research-based practices, sample lessons, interactive activities, and video segments taken from afterschool programs across the country. Whether you're an experienced afterschool program director or a new volunteer, you will find a range of user-friendly practices and sample lessons, the research that tells you what works, specific how-to instructions, and outcomes to look for.

The toolkit includes promising practices and sample lessons in:

  • Arts
  • Literacy
  • Math
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Homework Help

Use these toolkits to build your afterschool program, in professional development settings, for activities and ideas, and as a research base in effective afterschool programming.

Goals for Afterschool Learning

How can you ensure that you are making the most of the afterschool hours and increasing students' desire to learn? Research indicates that students get the most out of afterschool programs that:

  • Develop thoughtful, fun, accessible, activities
  • Survey and build on students' interests
  • Motivate and engage all students to participate
  • Connect to grade-level benchmarks, standards, and the school-day curriculum to increase achievement
  • Provide real-world activities that connect to the broader community
  • Provide effective tutoring and differentiated instruction for all skill levels
  • Integrate technology
  • Provide homework help
  • Plan activities that engage students and enhance skills across the curriculum
  • Provide staff training and professional development

How This Toolkit Was Developed

The National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning came together in 2003 in response to the need to build academic enrichment into afterschool programming. The project is funded by the Department of Education through a 21st Century Community Learning Center program.

The project partners include:

  • SEDL
  • The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST)
  • Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
  • Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL)
  • Southeast Regional Educational Laboratory (SERVE)
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • WGBH Educational Foundation

The educational laboratories conducted and reviewed research, identified and visited afterschool sites across the U.S., and documented the connections between specific practices in each subject area and expected student outcomes and achievement. This toolkit is based on comprehensive research findings that underscore the need for quality afterschool programming and improved student achievement.

The Steering Committee that oversees the toolkit and partnership includes:

Marilyn Jager Adams Soliloquy Learning

Grace Davila Coates FAMILY MATH EQUALS University of Southern California, Berkeley

An-Me Chung (Ex-Officio) Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Harris M. Cooper Duke University

Pat Edwards Consultant

Stephanie Hirsh National Staff Development Council

Rhonda Lauer Foundations, Inc.

Priscilla Little Harvard Family Research Project

Carol K. McElvain Learning Point Associates

Claudette Morton Montana Small Schools Alliance

Elizabeth Reisner Policy Studies Association, Inc.

Carla Sanger LA's BEST

Heather Weiss Harvard Family Research Project

girl pouring water from bucket
group analyzing
girl playing on a drum