The Many Faces of
Creating a school-age program that “wows” children and supports
their needs can seem overwhelming. You might be asking, Where do I start?
How do I know what is supposed to be included or excluded? How much is too
much? How do I know when the environment is working or not working? How
can I do this alone?
Never fear, help is here. This book takes you through all the consider-
ations that affect your school-age program environment and then lays out a
process for creating your environment. This chapter looks at the wide variety
of afterschool programs, both in terms of the type of program and the type
of space that houses the program. Based on the children and on where your
program falls within the spectrum of school-age programs, you can begin to
formulate some goals for your environment.
Types of Programs
The need for accessible and affordable care for school-age children is well
documented, but providing afterschool care to meet the needs of families
and communities can be challenging. There is no cookie-cutter way to pro-
vide school-age care. The National AfterSchool Association’s (NAA) “Code of
Ethics” defines afterschool programming as “any organized program provided
for children and youth ages 5–18 during a time when they are not in school”
(2009). While the NAA does not specifically mention before-school care in its
definition, many programs provide care before the school bell rings. Each pro-
gram is unique, offering a variety of educational, recreational, and enrichment
activities that are based on the needs of the children, families, and commu-
nity and on the organization’s mission and goals. Some programs have limited
hours. Some operate only on days children are in school. Others operate seven
days a week; still others, just on weekends. Some operate only during the
summer. Some offer overnight care.