Lights On Afterschool!

Caleb walks slowly with his head down and his hands in his pockets. He avoids the gaze of the 3 students playing at the park nearby because they are known for getting into trouble and he doesn’t want to get in more trouble than he already is for the test he failed today. He just wishes he had someone he could talk to but his mom won’t be home until 5:45.

When Caleb arrives at home he unlocks the door and calls his mom to let her know he is home. She senses something is wrong in his voice and wishes she could be there to talk with him. She reminds him to get his homework done since he has football practice and won’t have time to do it otherwise. She spends the rest of her work day worried about him.

Caleb grabs a bag of chips and pulls out his homework. He flips on the TV for some background noise and starts his math. He completes the first problem but isn’t sure if his answer is correct or not. Then he tries the second question and is stuck. He can’t figure out how to do it so he gets frustrated and puts the math back in his backpack. The TV catches his attention and before he knows it his mom is arriving with a pizza. They head to football, he takes a shower and off to bed. He lays there worried about the test he failed and his unfinished homework.

Kya failed the same test as Caleb. It was a really tough one! She arrives at her after-school program feeling bad that she didn’t do well on her test since she studied a lot. Her after-school program teacher notices that she is more quiet than usual and asks about her day. She tells him about the test and he shares a story about when he was her age and had a similar experience. They make a plan for her to do better next time.

After some apple slices and string cheese Kya goes outside for some fresh air. She runs and connects with some of her friends who cheer her up. Then she heads to the homework room where she starts on her math worksheet. She does the first question but isn’t so sure so she asks the after-school program teacher to look it over. Her answer confirmed she feels more confident and starts on the second problem. It is a tough one and she isn’t sure what to do next. The teacher gives her some suggestions and she finishes the rest of the worksheet successfully.

With her math done she reads for 20 minutes and still has time to head to the art room. She enjoys learning about a famous artist and making her own creation and as she is going to tuck her art in her backpack her mom comes to pick her up. They head home for supper then off to dance class.  On the way home from dance her mom mentions that the after-school teacher told her about the test. They talk about the test and then talk about all of the other fun things that happened in her day.

The stories of these two kids are not unique. Like 76% of South Dakota’s kids, both have parents doing their best to raise happy kids while they work each day. Both sets of parents are very caring, choose to enroll their child in activities and have high expectations for their children. Both children want to do their best and are intelligent. The difference is that Kya’s family has the support of a high quality after-school program. According to the South Dakota Afterschool Partnership 48,000 kids in South Dakota alone are like Caleb and care for themselves after school.

Lutheran Social Services Childcare and Education provides five after-school and summer programs to serve the youth in Sioux Falls. These programs keep kids safe and learning. They help working parents to be successful each day.

This week our programs will celebrate Lights on Afterschool! This national celebration of afterschool programs and the many ways they make a difference. Join us by sharing the exciting message that afterschool programs impact children, families and communities.

lights on

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