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After-school program
makes learning fun

 

By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor 

  Cooking classes, drama and dance, piano and public speaking are just a sampling of activities going on in the after school program at Red Oak Elementary in Stockbridge. The school, along with all other elementary schools in Henry County took part in the nationally recognized “Lights on after School” providing an open house for parents and families to see first-hand the opportunities offered in aftercare programs throughout the school district.

Kindergarten students in Red Oak's after school program have fun in cooking class making Monster cookies.

Photo by Melissa Robinson

  The after school program was approved by the Henry County Board of Education in 1990 offering an Afterschool Enrichment Program (ASEP) in all of the district’s elementary schools. Each school has a director to run their individual program.

  Under the leadership of Sangeeda Mittal, director of Red Oak Elementary’s after school program, enrollment has swelled from approximately 90 students to more than 140 students.  Gone are the days of lumping kindergarten through fifth grade students into the cafeteria for homework, a snack and some free play. Today, students in many Henry County schools are learning money management, drama and dance, along with math and language arts enrichment, computer classes, art classes and plenty of fresh air during outside play time.

  “The kids are happy and they are learning, but having fun,” said Mittal. “Sometimes, parents come to pick them up and they are having so much fun they don’t want to leave.”

  Their afternoon starts with the students meeting in the cafeteria after dismissal, for a snack and homework time.

  “We allow about 30 to 35 minutes for homework, but if they don’t finish they can finish at their next class,” said Mittal. “Students stay with their own age groups in each activity.”

  Mittal said it’s important to make sure student’s finish homework because by the time they get home and have dinner, it’s likely late and she understands how difficult it is for working parents to have to worry about helping with homework late in the evening.

  She said students then follow a specific schedule that changes weekly, in order to allow them time in each enrichment class. They spread out throughout various locations in the school and participate in an assortment of activities for 30-minute intervals.

  On any typical day, while fourth graders are making their own mini pizzas or kindergarteners are creating monster cookies in cooking class, first grade students might be learning to play the piano or playing bingo to enhance math skills.

  Mittal has been the school’s after-care director for the past six years, and credits her staff with a successful and smooth-running program.

  “I love my job here and I have a great staff,” she said. “Whatever I need for the students, they are right there to take care of it. I’m very lucky to have such a wonderful team.”

  Mittal said it’s important to have a variety of engaging and interesting activities for the children, as well as ample time with outdoor and indoor play time.

  “They spend the whole day working hard in school, having to be quiet for much of the time, so it’s important to balance that with their after school activities,” she said.

  She is working on several new programs to add to the after school schedule, including a photography class, agriculture class, golf and tennis.

  Henry County’s after school programs costs $50 per week for each student and run from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. on school days.

  For more information on Henry County Schools after care program, visit www.henry.k12.ga.us.

 

 

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