Even after school gets out for the day, the learning and fun continues
By Michelle Collins
School isn’t the only place your children can get an education: kids have the opportunity to do everything from make new friends to learn to speak a new language outside of school, too.
Out-of-school enrichment programs are supervised and positive environments for children to go when they are not in school, and while their parents are at work. Many programs provide time for students to do their homework and have tutorial assistance, while incorporating learning activities such as arts and crafts, sports and theatre.
“It’s pretty fun because you do all these activities and you can hang out with your friends,” said Kelsey Brown, a seventh-grader at Madison Elementary School in Madison, who attends their school enrichment program, Mustang Academy.
Students from kindergarten to sixth grade attend Mustang Academy, and Brown attended last year, before her move to the middle school. She needed a place to go to after school, as both her parents work later than when school gets out.
“It’s a great place to be,” Brown said. “We’d go to Burke Field and play games.”
Since Brown will no longer be a student at Madison Elementary come fall, she plans to help out at Mustang Academy so she can still be involved with the program. Brown will be returning with several of the friends she made last year, just like Chloe Van Dyne, a fourth-grader who will be going back to Mustang if her “mom lets her.” Van Dyne started going to the program in the middle of last year, because her mom teaches a gym class on Wednesday and Friday evenings, and needed a safe place for Van Dyne and her sister to go to while she teaches.
“You can play games and talk,” Van Dyne said. “I (even) learned how to knit, and I got four rows of knitting done.”
Students at Mustang Academy not only learn how to knit and have time to do their homework and socialize, but also get to enjoy snack time, do pottery, gym and other arts-related projects.
“My mom wanted me to start doing it because she had (to) work,” said Sam Dickinson, a second-grader in Madison Elementary. “(It’s) more fun than I thought it was going to be.”
Dickinson never knew how to do pottery before entering Mustang last year, and now plans to continue this new hobby after the program is over. Even after his initial hesitation of joining the program, Dickinson is excited to return this coming school year.
“It’s a nice place,” Dickinson said. “(I made) a lot of friends in the after-school program.”
The Southern New Hampshire area also has several out of school enrichment programs parents can choose from.
Southern New Hampshire Montessori Academy is in Londonderry. Students at Montessori range from 5 to 9 years old, and the program not only helps to develop kids’ general educations, but also provides them with experience in visual and performing arts, technology, physical education and foreign languages.
“I have learned to do math…and we learn to sing,” said Camden Alexander, a first-grader from Hudson.
Alexander has been attending a school enrichment program since age 3, and started with Montessori when he was five. The Academy will have a newly renovated school come September, and Alexander plans to attend the new location. In addition to learning math and melodies, Alexander, who attends the program Monday through Friday, also credits Montessori for teaching him how to play piano, draw in art class and to speak French.
“You can talk differently, and you can teach other people,” Alexander said. “It’s pretty fun.”
The learning part aside, Alexander also admits he has made a lot of friends throughout his years with Montessori, and enjoys being able to play outside with them.
“We don’t always do work there, so that’s why it’s kind of fun,” Alexander said.
Other schools and organizations in the state offering out of school enrichment programs to their students include Harold Martin Elementary school in Hopkinton’s “Reaching for the Stars” program, which includes education on Greek mythology, karate and Russian culture.
Even Girls Incorporated of New Hampshire offers a variety of enrichment programs, such as Girls Inc. Economic Literacy, which teaches girls money management and global economics, as well as Young Women’s Leadership, which helps adolescent girls build confidence and develop leadership skills through activities, community service, and mentoring relationships.
For information about your child’s enrichment program options, visit their school’s Web site or call the school directly.
Michelle Collins is a freelance writer and blogger for The Nashua Telegraph. Her work has also been featured in The Hippo and Taste of the Seacoast magazines.