Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Better Afterschool

When I was growing up, my afterschool experience was pretty idyllic.

When the school day ended, I walked the block-and-a-half home with a group of neighborhood kids. My stay-at-home Mom and baby sister were usually on the front lawn waiting for me and my brother. Sometimes my Mom would have homemade cookies for all the kids who strolled by. Our door was always open to any neighborhood kid to had to make a bathroom stop or needed a band aid for a scraped knee.

After the requisite "how was your day?" exchanges, we would throw down our backpacks, grab a snack, and head back outside for an impromptu game of kick-the-can or some serious backyard fort-building. Parents didn't stand by and supervise -- we just played.

Some days, I had a piano lesson, soccer practice, or an arranged play date -- but most days, the time between school and dinner was spent hanging outside with other kids who lived on my block. Eventually, my Mom would call for us to come in for dinner and the good times would come to an end -- until the next day when the exact same scenario would take place.

I certainly recognize how lucky I was to have this kind of carefree time as a kid. My afterschool experience is far from typical -- especially for kids growing up now.

For many kids, the hours between school and dinner are not always a happy or productive time. For some, this time is spent alone because parents are at work. Other kids plop down on the couch for a few hours of television or video games. For other kids, this time is spent plowing through the mounds of homework they receive each day.

One thing seems clear from all of these different scenarios -- afterschool can be a better experience for our kids. Kids should use this time to run, play, breathe fresh air, learn about music, make an art project or practice their tennis serves. Afterschool should be fun -- and that isn't the case for every kid.

The Quaker Chewy Afterschool Rocks Program is partnering with the Afterschool Alliance to provide school-aged children with opportunities to learn and grow through affordable, quality afterschool programs. To help raised awareness for this campaign, Quaker has joined with Miranda Cosgrove of Nickelodeon's iCarly. Parents can enter into the Quaker Chewy Afterschool Rocks sweepstakes to win a private performance by Miranda Cosgrove (can you hear tween girls everywhere squealing at just the thought of it?). Mamas and papas can enter to win once a day through April 16, 2010 at www.Quakeroats.com/afterschoolrocks.

Plus, every day you have the chance to win a 10-count box of Quaker Chewy Bars. Head on over to the website to check out all of the details. While you are there, be sure to check out the information on how you can get your kids involved in afterschool programs in your area.

In the spirit of inspiring afterschool fun, Quaker sent me an Afterschool Kit -- complete with Quaker Chewy Bars, an itunes gift card, a journal, and a box of perfectly-sharpened colored pencils (love that). Sound like something your kids would like? You are in luck because Quaker gave me an extra Afterschool Kit to give away to one of my readers. To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post (be sure to include your contact info) by midnight CST on Monday, April 12th.

Good luck and happy playing!

The full disclosure part: I was compensated for writing this post about the Quaker Afterschool Rocks program. I also received an Afterschool Kit to keep and one to give away to my readers. Quaker did not tell me that I should write about my memories of my Mom standing on the front lawn with homemade cookies -- that part is all me.


Laurie said...

I think about it often how different kids have it now. I grew up in a small town where we played outside in the neighborhood each afternoon. I love city life, but am sad that my kids will miss out on those great memories. I guess that is balanced with all the other great memories they will have from the wonderful opportunities Chicago has to offer!
PS I love brand new colored pencils, too! :)

Laurie said...

Oops - contact information

Emily said...

One of the things I love about my town is that kids can have exactly the kind of after-school experience you describe. With 8 kids of elementary school age on our block, there are all kind of impromptu play dates that happen -- at least in good weather!

ekpaster at yahoo dot com

Megryansmom said...

Things were so much simpler then. Now parents are forced to supervise more and must tread carefully so as not to be labeled helicopter parents.

Looking forward to meeting you on Sunday!

Megryansmom at sbcglobal dot net

melanie said...

we're still trying to work out how to have a good after school experience. too often we are all tired and stressed out...maybe we should try chilling out a little bit more instead of being so task-oriented.