Make the seasonal schedule the basis for your site weekly schedules. The site weekly schedule helps guide staff in planning their daily sessions and activities. It shows which rooms are being used for each type of programming during each time slot. The difference between a seasonal schedule and a site weekly schedule is the level of detail. A seasonal schedule will name each Targeted Program offered, including time, location and age group. A site weekly schedule indicates which lessons from that Targeted Program staff will facilitate during that week. Work with your staff to create a site weekly schedule for your entire site. This will keep you and your staff organized, and it helps youth and their families know what to expect. Just like the seasonal schedule, the site weekly schedule is based on time of day and location. When creating your site’s weekly schedule with your team, keep these important considerations in mind:
- Provide your staff members with planning time before or after programming each day.
- Ensure youth have the opportunity to choose programs or activities at least once per day.
- Schedule your most impactful programs at the time of day when the most youth are present in the Club.
- Schedule half of your staff to be “openers,” and the other half to be “closers.” That way they will all be on the clock when the most youth are present. It also prevents overstaffing when fewer members are in the building.
- Give teens their own space, programs and activities.
High-Yield Learning Activities
Think of activities as the smallest building blocks of Club programming. Activities are a single event of limited duration. All activities have some kind of objective, even if it’s simply about engaging youth in play or keeping them safely occupied during a lull in the programming. Examples of simple activities include watching a movie, playing a game like Simon Says, or painting a picture. In our Formula for Impact, an additional type of activity serves as another crucial component of the Outcome-Driven Club Experience: High-Yield Activities. These provide youth with enjoyable experiences that are hands-on, interactive, intentionally develop critical thinking or other skills, and help them achieve positive outcomes in our three priority outcome areas. High-Yield Activities appeal to young people’s interests and their desire to play, and can even include some friendly competition. They can be done with individuals, small groups and large groups. When done well, they remove the division between learning and playing. Most importantly, they should be fun. They should motivate youth to explore, develop, create and learn. High-Yield Activities are most fun when they are varied and have an element of surprise. High-Yield Activities help inject spontaneity and excitement into the day-to-day routine. You can increase existing programs’ appeal by using related High-Yield Activities as extensions or enhancements. You can even create High-Yield Activities that support more than one of the priority outcome areas at the same time.
Planning a High-Quality Session
Typically, a Club or Youth Center program schedule is made up of standard blocks of time in particular spaces. All the activities that occur in a space during one of those blocks of time is a session (often called a lesson). A session may be dedicated to a High-Yield Activity or a Targeted Program. For example, a session of the Money Matters financial literacy program might include an icebreaker, an activity about budgeting, a high-yield online game where teens test their ability to stay within a certain budget, and a group discussion to help teens reflect on what they learned. Planning time is essential to successfully facilitate Targeted Program sessions and High-Yield Activities. Planning includes scheduling a time and place, securing and setting up the needed materials or equipment, promoting the session, becoming familiar with the content and facilitation steps, and identifying strategies for keeping youth engaged. Remember to infuse the Five Key Elements for Positive Youth Development into every Targeted Program session or High-Yield Activity. Youth thrive when we implement high-quality youth development practices consistently. When you incorporate these practices during programming, you enhance program quality and help youth achieve the program’s desired outcomes. Use the following Elements of a High-Quality Session to structure your Targeted Program sessions or High-Yield Activities. These elements align with the David P. Weikart Center’s Youth Program Quality Assessment.
- Warm Welcome
- Community Builder
- Group Agreements
- Main Activity