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enrichment programs

Photo: UW Continuum College

How to find good enrichment programs for teens

Fill the gap left by the lack of usual afterschool activities.

Information from UW Continuum College:

Afterschool enrichment programs play an important role in the lives of many teenagers.

Whether it’s participation in sports, band, clubs, or volunteer opportunities, activities are critical in keeping them engaged and learning.

As the COVID pandemic lingers, youth development professionals in afterschool and out-of-school programs are working hard to find new ways to provide meaningful virtual engagement and support for students and their families.

Leslie Rome, director of University of Washington Continuum College Summer Youth Program — which, for the first time is offering remote fall courses — has some recommendations to help parents evaluate online afterschool programs for their student.

Seek out rewarding enrichment opportunities. Keep your teenager motivated with a subject that is unique, fun and fits your student’s schedule and work load. Maybe you have a passionate young writer or an aspiring coder? Courses in IT and college writing readiness can give them a leg up on their transcript or resume.

Be on the lookout for best practices. Successful online instruction incorporates whole-group discussion, small-group/partner collaboration and individual work time. Look for online programs that limit class sizes to 25 students with an instructor and teaching assistant. When researching programs for your teen, look for parent reviews and student testimonials that provide a sense of “if it’s worth it.” For example, a student from oa UW Continuum College 2020 summer writing program shared this feedback: “For being an online course, I learned a lot and practiced a lot of writing skills. I thought the breakout rooms and other forms of turning in our practiced work were extremely helpful.”

Find a reputable provider. Cut through the clutter by pursuing programs with a track record of delivering online. For example, schools like UW started providing extension learning a century ago. Those programs have evolved into today’s online education.

Times may be challenging, but parents and students should look to the wealth of online resources available to supplement learning.

Many resources, like the Khan Academy, or massive online open courses (MOOCs) offered by universities around the country, are free or low cost. Everyone is looking forward to the time when students will back on the playfields and rehearsing school plays. But in the meantime, your teen can gain confidence and new skills, and really enjoy an online extracurricular program.

More on the subject:

Free online learning from Seattle-area museums, galleries, zoos and more

Check our Virtual Event Calendar for fun and educational activities

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