Afterschool in the Global Age

Beyond school, there is a world of opportunities for children to learn. Illustration: iStockPhoto.
Beyond school, there is a world of opportunities for children to learn. Illustration: iStockPhoto.

Education doesn't end with the school day. Children learn whether through social interaction, play, study, or consuming media. There are opportunities to structure the afterschool hours to optimize student exposure to the interconnected world. See examples below and help spread these and other ideas.


What a Wonderful World: Ideas for Children Ages 5 - 12

Early Literacy
Since literacy and writing skills are a major concern of all afterschool
programs, content could be internationally themed. Activities could encourage children to read stories from different countries by using books and anthologies, as well as video and interactive learning games featuring characters with an international identity (such as Sesame Street’s Global Grover). Children could read, discuss, and creatively respond to these stories. Technology connections could help children create their own storybooks or research and compare common elements in stories from around the world.

Food and Nutrition
Programs could enhance children’s exposure to world cuisines, providing hands-on experiences preparing international foods accompanied by stories
about the cultural significance of dishes. Students could practice problem solving and teamwork as well as math and nutrition by examining the ingredients, literacy by creating menus, and science by studying plant and food production. Content on international social and economic issues as global food insecurity and trade could also be included. Culminating
activities might include an international bake sale or cookbook of world recipes.

Games and Sports
Children could learn about the geographic, historic, and cultural elements of various sports and games from around the world. Activities could be built around a particular region/country and sport, such as Africa and distance running, or presented as companion projects to worldwide sporting events, such as the Olympics or World Cup. The study of world sports and games
is a way to enhance children’s knowledge and appreciation of such concepts as fairness and gamesmanship, strategy and competitiveness,
and play and leisure in other cultures.

The World in Our Community: Ideas for Teenagers

World Music
Activities featuring the instruments and performance genres of other cultures offer an exciting way to raise awareness about their traditions. Programs could have students research information about the geographic and historical settings for musical innovations. Students could explore
local traditional music and instruments, comparing and sharing what they find with peers in other countries via technology. Digital audio software enables youth to produce their own compositions by collaborating with their peers to blend sounds from around the world.

World Languages
Students could be exposed to a variety of world languages after school through linkages with local cultural and linguistic institutions. Depending on the program, the goal might not be language profi ciency, but rather language exposure and cultural and linguistic skill development. International university students could help expose students to critical world languages, such as Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, Russian, and others. The activities could also include fi eld trips to cultural institutions, museums, and other related events.

Service Learning and Career Exploration
Programs could engage their students in local research projects while
considering the international implications of their findings. This action-oriented program could enhance students’ involvement in and commitment to their local and global communities while promoting knowledge of current
events, world history, and geography both locally and globally. The program could explore service learning opportunities with nonprofits, museums, and other civic organizations with international connections. Student internships and summer jobs could also be considered as an extension to the program.

About the Recommendations

These ideas are a result of a joint Asia Society and The George Lucas Educational Foundation national meeting to explore strategies for expanding internationally themed programming in afterschool and summer learning initiatives. Planned in collaboration with the Afterschool and Community Learning Network and The Children’s Aid Society, this invitational forum brought together representatives from national groups, state and local leaders, and experts in informal learning and youth development.