January 28, 2009

Check out the Fall 2008 Slideshow!

Curious as to what our poet-athletes were up to in the Fall? Well you are in luck! Click on the slideshow below and appease your curiosity!

P.S. We would LOVE to hear back from you and your input, so leave us a message about how we are doing!

January 23, 2009

Healthy Eating

Having a hard time implementing healthy eating in your family? Below are five steps to take from Kids Health!

Good nutrition and a balanced diet help kids grow up healthy. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, here are five of the best strategies to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits:

  1. Have regular family meals.
  2. Serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks.
  3. Be a role model by eating healthy yourself.
  4. Avoid Battles oveer food.
  5. Involve kids in the process.
For more descriptive information, check out the article on the Kids Health website!


January 21, 2009

How to Prepare Your Child for the CSAP!

With testing dates for the CSAP quickly approaching, I figured it would be helpful to get some information out there on what you can do as a parent to prepare your child(ren).

The CSAP stands for Colorado Student Assessment Program. It is a test designed to measure student achievement in relationship to the Colorado Model Content Standards. These standards are expectations specifying what students should know at particular points in their education. As a result, CSAP provides a series of snapshots of student achievement in reading, writing, math, and science as they move through grades 3–10.

Information Strategies

Make sure that you understand why schools give the CSAP and how the information will be used. This pamphlet answers some questions that you may have about the CSAP.

~Find out when the school gives the CSAP so that you can ensure that your child is present for the test.

~Ask whether the school gives students practice in taking the CSAP. If so, be sure that your child participates in these practice sessions.

~Ask your child’s teacher for information about activities that you can do at home to help your child learn academic content.

Homework Aids

~When your child has homework, make sure that it gets done.

~Plan a time and a space for your child to study.

~Have your child sit at a table or desk with good light when he/she studies, not in front of the television.

~If your child never or rarely brings work home, find out why. Arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss the homework policy.

~Help your child understand that spacing studying over days or weeks is better preparation than trying to “cram” the night before.

Physical Preparation

~Make sure that your child gets a good rest the nights before the test. Children who are tired are less able to pay attention in class or to handle the demands of the test.

~Feed your child a nourishing breakfast on the mornings of the test. Hunger can detract from good test performance.

~Plan ahead to ensure that your child is present and on time for the test. Do not plan any medical or dental appointments on testing days.

Ask Your Child To:

~Read the directions carefully when the teacher gives out the test.

~Read the questions carefully and all of the answer choices.

Remind Your Child:

~If you don’t know an answer to a question, skip it and go on to the next question.

~If there is time at the end of the test, return to the unanswered question.

~It is helpful to eliminate some of the answer choices that you think are wrong.

~It is better to tackle each question one-at-a-time, rather than thinking about the whole test at once.

~If you finish early, check your answers.

The best preparation for the CSAP is to ensure that your child masters the Colorado Model Content Standards on which the test is based.

You can help by:

~Monitoring your child’s performance during the year. Ask questions if you don’t understand the reasons why your child received a certain grade.

~Obtaining information about the Colorado Model Content Standards. Your child’s teacher or guidance counselor can provide you with this information.

~Telling your child that you believe that he/she can do well and succeed in school. Stress that students get good grades by hard work and not just because “some students are smart.” Offer praise and encouragement for achievement and improvement.

~Using television wisely. Limit viewing to 2 hours or less on a school night.

~Establishing a daily routine for meals, homework, chores, bedtime, and family talk.

For more information on the CSAP and preparing your child(ren), please visit the link below with helpful information complied by the Colorado Department of Education.


January 16, 2009

Interesting facts about Denver youth from Colorado Youth at Risk


- 37% of youth in Denver will drop out of high school.

- Colorado ranks 49th worst of the 50 states in the percentage of teens that are high school dropouts.

- 82% of prison inmates are high school drop outs.

- Youth with mentors are 86% more likely to stay in school and graduate.

- Youth with mentors are 46% less likely than youth without mentors to use drugs and 27% less likely to use alcohol.

January 14, 2009

Literacy and Reading in Afterschool Programs

From Afterschool Alliance, http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/issue_6_literacy.cfm

Each of us has a duty to help our children achieve their full potential. By working together, we can shape the destiny of America's children with our hands and hearts. Children who are able to read will be ready to learn and ready to lead.

-- First Lady Laura Bush, excerpted from the foreword of her educational initiatives Ready to Read, Ready to Learn.

Many quality afterschool programs offer literacy and reading activities that provide significant benefits to youth. Research indicates that such activities can improve students' achievement in reading and language arts and foster their appreciation for reading as a lifelong hobby. In addition, literacy and reading activities are effective tools for involving family and community members in students' learning process.

Increased Achievement in Literacy and Reading

Afterschool programs provide the additional time and one-on-one assistance that some youth need to master their reading skills. These quality research-based tutoring programs produce improvements in reading achievement and can lead to greater self-confidence in reading.

  • In a major study on preventing reading difficulties, the National Academy of Sciences found significant increases in reading achievement for students participating in programs that provided extra time in reading instruction by tutoring children individually.
  • In an evaluation of afterschool programs in the Philadelphia area supported by Foundations, Inc., the RAND Corporation found that fourth-graders in afterschool programs outperformed comparison students in reading and language arts.

Afterschool programs are helping youth strengthen their literacy and reading skills.

  • Students at Juarez High School in Chicago are learning the art of storytelling during the After School Matters program. The program stimulates literacy by allowing youth to work with professionals from the world of drama, storytelling and literature to read and create stories and learn about the technical elements of storytelling. Participants have the opportunity to read aloud, write and improvise stories to a variety of audiences.
  • The 4-H After-School Academic Program in Kansas City, Missouri, offers 160 youth opportunities to develop their reading skills and participate in entrepreneurial education activities in afterschool programs based at schools, public housing and faith-based organizations. For the literacy component, teen mentors lead youth through a curriculum created to increase participants' vocabulary, reading and comprehension skills and improve school competency test scores.

Fostering a Lifelong Interest in Reading

In order to become recreational and life-long readers, students need the opportunity to practice and develop their literacy skills in relaxed and enjoyable environments. Activities such as group discussions, storytelling, leisure reading, literacy games and other such reading-based interactions can foster youths' interest and motivation to read. Research shows that afterschool programs successfully provide such activities.

  • In one study of afterschool programs, teachers said that one-third of participating children developed a greater interest in recreational reading and earned better grades.
  • Teachers in Manchester, New Hampshire, reported that 63% of students participating in the Y.O.U. afterschool program developed an interest in recreational reading.
  • The Katmai Boys & Girls Club started a Reading Club one afternoon a week in Naknek, Alaska. During the 45 minutes of Reading Club, students are read to by staff and volunteers and have the opportunity to read age-appropriate books to themselves. Students develop reading comprehension skills and are exposed to a "fun" reading experience which encourages a lifetime love of reading.

Making Connections with Adults

Experts say reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for their future success in reading, and that children model the reading and language behaviors of the adults in their lives. Moreover, adults who help children with reading and literacy skills also report increased confidence in their own skills. These mutual benefits, as well as the desire to foster family involvement in their children's education, lead many afterschool programs to provide intergenerational reading and literacy activities.

January 7, 2009

And the voters say...

Three in Four Voters Want Federal, State and Local
Lawmakers to Increase Funding for Afterschool Programs

Poll Finds Afterschool Support Crosses All Demographic & Party Lines

Washington, DC – A new poll taken on Election eve and Election night shows that nearly nine in ten voters (89 percent) say that, given the dangers young people face today, afterschool programs are important. Four in five voters (83 percent) agree there should be some type of organized activity or safe place for children and teens to go after school every day that provides opportunities for them to learn – and 76 percent want the new Congress and their newly elected state and local officials to increase funding for afterschool programs. The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners with bipartisan analysis by Lake and The Tarrance Group for the Afterschool Alliance.

“During these tough economic times, when so many parents are forced to extend their work day or take more than one job, voters recognize that the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families are absolutely essential,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “Voters know a sound investment when they see one, and they know that quality afterschool programs are especially important right now because they give working families the support they urgently need, and make more options available to parents.”

Other key findings from the new survey:

  • Three in four voters (76 percent) say that afterschool programs are “an absolute necessity” for their community, and 58 percent strongly agree.
  • Majorities of both Obama and McCain voters strongly agree that “there should be some type of organized activity or safe place for children and teens to go after school every day that provides opportunities for them to learn.” Just 12 percent of voters disagree with that statement.
  • Support for afterschool programs holds strong across all demographic, ideological and party lines. Ninety-four percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Independents and 71 percent of Republicans agree there’s a need for an organized activity or safe place for children/teens, as do 73 percent of conservatives. Majorities of voters of all races and ages, from all regions, and parents as well as non-parents, agree.
  • Men’s intensity of support for afterschool programs is increasing. Today, 63 percent of men strongly agree there should be some type of organized activity or safe place for children/teens to go after school every day that provides opportunities for them to learn. In 2006, just 53 percent of men strongly agreed.
  • Three in four voters (76 percent) think that afterschool programs are important to helping youth stay in school and addressing the dropout crisis in America. Similarly, 76 percent see afterschool programs as important to helping prepare youth for the workforce. Only about one in five voters are neutral or see no link between afterschool programs and helping youth stay in school and prepare to enter the workforce.

“We’re very encouraged by these results, and intend to ask federal lawmakers to significantly increase afterschool funding next year,” Grant added. “The federal government’s underfunding of afterschool programs has forced many programs to cut back so that they serve fewer children for fewer hours. Other programs have closed, leaving children unsupervised and at risk for substance abuse, gang involvement, teen pregnancy, crime and other serious problems after the school day ends. We look forward to working with the new Congress and President-Elect Obama to reach the funding levels mapped out in the No Child Left Behind Act and help make quality, affordable afterschool programs available to all children across the nation.”

The No Child Left Behind Act called for a series of modest, annual increases in federal funding for afterschool. Despite that, funding for the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) afterschool initiative was subject to a series of small cuts until last year, when the 110th Congress provided a small increase, bringing funding just over the $1 billion mark, for the first time. The No Child Left Behind Act authorized $2.5 billion for 21st CCLC in FY 2007.

Some 14.3 million kindergarten through 12th graders take care of themselves after the school day ends, including almost four million middle school students in grades six to eight. The parents of 15.3 million children say their children would participate if an afterschool program were available.

The new national public opinion survey was conducted by Lake Research Partners with bipartisan analysis by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group. It reached 1,200 likely registered voters, 1,000 via landline phones and 200 via cell phones, on November 2 - 4, 2008. Only respondents who told survey-takers that they were either almost certain to vote or had already voted were queried. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 2.8%.

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The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children have access to quality afterschool programs. More information is available at