Going Beyond The Three R’s

The bell rings. It’s the end of the school day for kids in Sheridan. Most will gather their jackets and book bags, wave their goodbyes and make their way home.

Others though – hundreds in fact – will continue their day in an afterschool program. These kids will get their hands dirty painting their next masterpiece. Or find themselves elbow deep in dirt from a local community garden. They’ll find a safe space to work and play – all while learning.

“Our teachers love the afterschool programs,” says Yvonne Osborne, District Coordinator in Sheridan. “They teach the way they’d love to teach in the classroom if they had more time.”

It’s true. An afterschool setting lets providers and kids explore far beyond what they might be able to in the classroom. It sounds idyllic, but it’s also not without its struggles.

Social & Emotional Issues Create Hurdles 

You can imagine that even the best lesson can run astray if behavior issues get in the way.

“We get kiddos who struggle with ADHD, or who may be dealing with other things,” says Yvonne. “They’ve been in school all day when they join us. Bless their hearts, but it can be a challenge.” Yvonne wants nothing more than for kids to be successful. She also needs tools to tackle the social and emotional issues that lead to success.

That’s where the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance comes in. “We hear more and more from out-of-school-time providers that they need support for dealing with social and emotional issues,” says Linda Barton, Director of the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance. Because of your generosity, the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance hosted a conference in 2016 to give teachers the tools they need.

Great Lessons Learned

“We’re always asking ourselves, ‘How do we help children succeed?’” says Yvonne. “Troubling behaviors are not reflective of who these kids are inside.” Linda agrees. She gathered some of the foremost experts on social and emotional learning to share their research, knowledge and experiences at the 2016 Wyoming Afterschool Alliance’s annual conference.

“We really try to give providers the resources they need to bring out the best in students. Kids are remarkable and we need to ensure providers have the resources to reach them.” Yvonne attended the conference and returned to Sheridan motivated and armed with tools for success. She and her staff are implementing the lessons learned.