We will address one strategy primarily—the use of project learning in academically oriented after-school programs—that we believe can help ignite the flame of learning for students. We believe that this approach can help current non-academically focused programs to intentionally devote time to boost children’s academic learning, in addition to the other beneficial activities they sponsor. Although we will not address other important areas for staff in these targeted professional development modules, studies have shown that those who work in after-school programs also need to understand:
- building effective learning environments;
- the role of social engagement in learning;
- the importance of communicating with parents and students;
- strategies for experiential learning that highly engage students;
- resources available in the community;
- youth development principles; and
- the subject matter students are learning and will use.