We know that each child is unique. They each develop at their own pace. They each have their own strengths and challenges; their own group of friends and interests. It is often boredom that triggers certain behaviors in children. Day after day, children are likely to follow daily routines that require a high level of concentration and self-regulation. In our afterschool program, we want to provide the children with a designated space where they can unwind and be children. The clubs were implemented so that children could choose their own activities based on their interests rather than program leaders (educators) suggesting activities that don’t really interest them.
The clubs offer children the choice of different activities than the ones they engage in on their regular day-to-day routine. The program leaders choose which club they will lead based on different factors, for example: their skills, interests or suggestions from children. At the beginning of the week, (either Monday or Tuesday) the children can register in one of the clubs. It is the leaders’ responsibility to plan and lead the activity. The afterschool program director prepares the attendance list based on the group of children participating in each club. On Fridays, after outdoor play, children are gathered together in their respective clubs. We plan special interest clubs every two weeks. The leaders are free to choose their own activities and work with different colleagues. This allows the children to interact with new leaders, new children and discover a new physical environment.
We have witnessed many benefits since the implementation of the clubs in our program and we have received many positive comments from parents, children and leaders. The clubs help reduce certain behaviours in groups because the children are engaged in the activities they choose. The clubs also give them the opportunity to make new friends and promote inclusion. The groups are made up of children of all different ages. The older children help the younger ones take on challenges. The clubs also allow families to engage with the children. We often ask parents to participate by bringing some material required for our activities. For example, in our lava lamp group, we asked each parent/child to bring an empty water bottle. The implementation of the clubs also had a positive impact on the sense of belonging of the team and the families that we work with. Since the activities are based on the children’s interests, they are more inclined to finish their activity. The parents then commit to staying longer to watch their children or to participate with them. This also allows the leaders and the parents to interact together and promotes better communication. The clubs help create a sense of well-being for all and a sense of attachment and trust between the parent, the leader and the children.
The special interest clubs are a huge success in our afterschool program. They are beneficial to all and we want to continue expanding and improving this system.
Director and Coordinators