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June 28, 2012
In this issue of the FINE Newsletter, we explore the partnership of families and afterschool programs to promote youth learning. We highlight promising methods that afterschool programs can use to engage families. We also examine families’ roles in accessing high-quality afterschool programs and in helping to build on their children’s learning at home and in the larger community.
This issue’s Commentary puts forth the idea that the relationship between families and afterschool is shifting from a focus on increasing afterschool program participation (program-centered) toward a focus on parents’ supporting children’s learning and development in afterschool settings (learning-centered). Likewise, whereas afterschool programs used to take the lead in supporting children’s learning in their programming, they are now working with families as equal partners in this effort.
Our three Voices from the Field articles explore family–program partnerships through the lens of recent research as well as from the perspectives of parents and programs. Researcher and consultant Priscilla Little reflects on how the afterschool field has grown from being a safe haven for children to a central element in their learning. Program evaluator Samantha Grant encourages parents like herself to identify and seek out high-quality afterschool experiences for their children. Jane Werner and Lisa Brahms, from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, discuss the Museum’s innovative MAKESHOP studio space, which invites children and families to co-create projects.
We also highlight related Harvard Family Research Project Resources & Research, including Families and Expanded Learning Opportunities: Working Together to Support Children’s Learning, which explores a learning-centered approach to family–program partnerships. Other features in this section include Afterschool Evaluation 101: How to Evaluate an Expanded Learning Program, our tool designed to assist afterschool programs in evaluating their work, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers—Stable Funding for Innovation and Continuous Improvement, the most recent in our series of Research Updates that highlight new and innovative methods and findings in out-of-school time research and evaluation.