Promising Practices in Afterschool Arts Programs Emphasized in Online Toolkit

Published in SEDL Letter Volume XVlll, Number 3, December 2006, 40 Years of SEDL's Building Knowledge to Support Learning

It sounds like a class on character education: empowering students to be leaders and teach other students in a supportive atmosphere. But it’s not character education. Surprisingly, it is a break dancing class in a Seattle afterschool program. Here students learn new dance moves while developing self-confidence and leadership skills. One student reported that the break dancing class has made him "want to go to school."

Screenshot of the AFterschool Toolkit web site.The break dance program is one of several arts programs featured in the arts section of the Afterschool Training Toolkit developed by the National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning. This online toolkit provides professional development to staff in afterschool programs and is developed around promising practices in afterschool programs that help boost student success.

"The arts have long been a part of afterschool programs," says SEDL program manager Catherine Jordan who is the director of the National Partnership. "They are often key to engaging students and keeping them interested in afterschool activities." The arts can play a role in students’ academic success, as evidenced by the Seattle student who was encouraged to attend school because of the afterschool program. "Often the skills developed in the arts help improve self-confidence and cultivate self-discipline," Jordan explains. View the arts component of the Afterschool Training Toolkit at In addition to video clips of exemplary afterschool arts programs, the toolkit includes lesson plans, research and resources for embedding academic content in afterschool activities, and suggestions for discussion and interdisciplinary connections.

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