AfterSchool KidzLit Best Practices: Collaborating with Other Programs (Part 6 of 8)
It seems that lack of resources is a stumbling block many face during out-of-school time. One of the most successful solutions to this problem is often collaboration. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America shares many great strategies and ideas for collaborating below that will allow you to utilize all of the resources around you and build strong partnerships.
The following is an excerpt from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America guide "Best Practices for Implementing the AfterSchool KidzLit Program." (You may also be interested in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.)
Given that AfterSchool KidzLit is a reading enrichment program that is aligned with national English and Language Arts curriculum standards and has been favorably evaluated, the Clubs found that school officials were willing to support the program. Implementing KidzLit gave the Clubs more credibility with their school partners. The Clubs developed many strategies to capitalize on their relationships with schools to increase KidzLit’s impact, such as:
- Collaborating with school librarians to coordinate the Club’s KidzLit book selection with book titles included in the schools’ Accelerated Reader (AR) program so youth could earn more AR points and earn higher grades in Reading/Language Arts (Alice and Harlingen);
- Taking advantage of fall Lights On Afterschool events held at Clubs to promote the Clubs’ KidzLit programs to school officials in attendance (Bloomfield);
- Carefully selecting KidzLit books and activities to align with local schools’ reading and literacy expectations related to phonemic awareness, word recognition, fluency, attitude toward reading, and comprehension (Bay County);
- Helping adolescent youth meet their school service-learning requirements by having them assist with younger children in KidzLit (Southeast Virginia); and
- Offering KidzLit sessions at nearby schools as well as in traditional Clubhouses. When the Western Pennsylvania Club program coordinator did this at a private school with a kindergarten to second-grade group and a third- to fifth-grade group once a week, the principal was so sold on the program that he agreed to bus students to the Club on Friday afternoons to participate in a soccer program, and asked the Club coordinator to offer the program again in the spring at the school.
Parents and Families
The Clubs used various strategies to educate parents about the KidzLit program, gain their buy-in and involve them in the program.
- Some Clubs sent letters home to parents, while others informed them of the program in Club parent orientation meetings.
- Some Clubs asked parents to sign up their children for the program as a way of reinforcing their commitment; they also asked parents to promise in writing to avoid picking up their children while they were participating in KidzLit sessions.
- The Clubs invited parents to attend and observe session activities.
- Some Clubs asked parents to participate as “guest readers” or contribute snacks and supplies.
- The Clubs also incorporated KidzLit activities in Club Family Nights and open house events.
The Clubs heard many favorable comments from parents about the program. Parents observed that their children became more enthusiastic about reading, talked more about books they were reading, increased the amount of reading they were doing on their own at home, read aloud to family members, and asked to be taken to the public library or a bookstore to acquire copies of KidzLit books that had captured their interest.
The Western Pennsylvania KidzLit coordinator shared this anecdote about two cousins who participated in KidzLit:
“After their first session, their guardian came in and wanted to ask about the program the kids were participating in. I explained the KidzLit program and asked if there were any problems. She said the kids were so enthused about the book Jamaica Louise James, they could not stop talking about it. They begged her to take them to the library so they could get library cards and check out the book. Their guardian agreed to take them to the library. The next week the kids came in to the Club to show me their cards and were very excited about having their cards. They were a bit disappointed because they could not find the book at the local library. I told them that if they promised to return the book in the same condition they received it, they could borrow the book. They waited for me after every session after that to borrow the book that was read that week, and said, ‘The Club is better than the library. We don’t even have to be quiet here.’”
Businesses and Other Community Organizations
Since the Clubs had received KidzLit implementation grants from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, several of them took the initiative to forge relationships with the managers and employees of their local Dollar General stores.
- At the Northern Chautauqua County Club, the Club’s executive director visited the local store with a group of Club youth to express the Club’s thanks, took photos, and submitted a press release to the local newspaper about the event.
- At the Bay County Club, KidzLit participants made a large thank-you card and presented it to the manager of the local store. The manager put the card on display for customers to see.
- At the Albany Club, store representatives participated in the program’s closing awards ceremony, and the store donated items for goody bags for the participants.
Other Clubs leveraged their KidzLit grant to obtain support from other businesses or agencies.
- The Alice Club impressed a local floor-covering vendor so much with its KidzLit program that the store donated a large carpet remnant to make the Club’s KidzLit space more comfortable.
- The Western Pennsylvania Club secured movie tickets for an end-of-program field trip for KidzLit participants from a local nonprofit agency called Tickets for Kids that provides free tickets to youth-serving agencies.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America gratefully acknowledges the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, whose generous funding support made it possible for Boys & Girls Clubs across the country to motivate young people to enjoy reading with the AfterSchool KidzLit program.
Note: This guide was developed by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to assist its sites in implementing the AfterSchool KidzLit program. The Boys & Girls Clubs generously shared this document as a facilitation tool to share what they've learned, not as an endorsement of the program. You may download the entire guide here.
Megan Green is one of the authors of AfterSchool KidzMath and is the Manager of After-School Programs at DSC.