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Also, the size and age range of children can vary greatly among school- age programs. Some programs separate children by ages. Most, however, have children spanning several grades within the same space. While these multi- age groupings provide great opportunities for peer interaction and mentoring, they also present some challenges. How can you create an environment that will meet the physical, social-emotional, and cognitive needs of all children in your program? The diversity in types of programs helps meet the needs of children and of changing family dynamics in today’s society; however, not all options are available in all areas. Types of Facilities Just as afterschool programs come in many shapes and sizes, so too do the facilities in which they are housed. School-age programs can be located in a classroom, cafeteria, gym, or library in a school building or in a community or faith-based organization. Some school-age programs are part of a child care facility and may be held in a room within the larger facility. Others may have their own facility that has been designed solely for the afterschool program. Regardless of their location, school-age facilities fall into two basic categories: shared space and dedicated space. Shared Space The majority of programs share part or all of their space. Shared space is defined as space that is used by others either during the school day, when you are not using it, or simulta- neously, during your program time. Setting up and taking down the envi- ronment daily is a key indicator that your space is shared space. These shared spaces come with opportunities and challenges. The Photo 1.1 The initial impression of a building housing a school-age program should send a message that this is a good place for children. 2 • Chapter 1 inability to use or move desks or other items in the room can limit group activities and active play. A library offers an area for quiet activities but leaves little room for active play. Sporting events, science fairs, school fund- raisers, or other events can temporarily force you out of your space, causing the frustration and disruption of dislocation. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL