At Grahamwood Elementary, parents are given an option to enroll their child into the school’s before and after school programs. The programs are designed to cater to the child’s interests or hobbies, as well as homework and tutoring.
Donnie Malone, the program’s coordinator, said the after-school program is designed to reinforce the school’s curriculum but in a more enjoyable way.
“This is way the children are still learning without feeling as if they were just doing more school,” Malone said.
In the after-school program, there are activities throughout the week to engage the children’s interest like math on Mondays and Wednesdays, Zumba on Tuesday and Thursdays and free play is on Fridays. They also have extracurricular activities such as piano, cheer, guitar, karate, ballet, chess, gymnastics and math club.
Almost every school in Memphis and Shelby Country has an after school program of some sort. Grahamwood also has a traditional tuition based program. This means that if the parent works with AFDC and their child attends the school the state will cover the child care services, as well as any outside organization that wants to pay for child care. However, Grahamwood doesn’t offer any financial assistance
Ava Bread, 10, a student at Grahamwood has been in the program for six years. “Teachers not only help in the afternoon, but in the mornings before class begins,” she said
She said the program helps her to focus before classes start through motivational exercises.
Malone said there are other educational programs that are components in the after-school program that are not like school.
“Programs like Kidz Math and Kidz Lit help build beyond what is taught in classrooms and helps the children learn things they might have missed,” Malone said.
Kaley Gorger, 8, said, “These programs help students how to read and do math better.”
Malone continued to explain how the after school program helps with children’s homework and study skills for subjects like math, science, social studies, reading and spelling. Many of the children use this to their advantage.
Jakayla Kimmons,10, said, “The after school program is a very good experience, because we have people that are able to help us and if we forget our homework sometimes the teachers will let us go and get it.”
The students also have access to the computer labs and other resources if they need.
“This helps because when we need to research information it will help us be able to find that information faster in the future,” Kaley, 8, said.
By staying after school, students finish their homework at school rather than wait for their parents to come home to help. If a child has to wait for a parent to get off work, the child may have to stay up later to finish the assignment, Malone explained.
Hannah Glare, 9, said, “My mother says it’s like tutoring because they will take us up to classrooms instead of just staying in the cafeteria.”
Hannah said the program helps other students when teachers are able to help go over their homework to make sure that they understand it or help them study for a test so they can get a better grade.
“Although we may not capture every student, the students who do stay after school know that we will do everything in our power to keep them engaged in the programs,” Malone said.
Malone explains that by going into a structured environment that is safe they are able to develop skills that help build into meaningful relationships.
“The after school programs really do help to expand a child’s mind and visual environment when you associate a learning activity with something fun,” Malone said.
For example, she said when students play basketball for points they count by two. He said instead of counting by two, count by five, seven or nine. This way they learn their multiplications and having fun at the same time.
“The biggest strength in this program is that ability to really breach their academic learning in a fun way where they don’t see it as still being in a classroom, but it is still fun,” Malone said.