The Importance of After School Programs – Lifelong Learning at Any Age

By Mike Durham – Founder and CEO Peachjar

One of the things that makes humans so amazing is our ability to display grit, persevere in challenging situations, and use social skills to advance in our personal and professional lives. While it is believed that these abilities come naturally for some of us, nurturing plays a very important role in building these skills and altering our lives in a positive way.  As an entrepreneur, father, and hard worker, my early childhood helped shape who I am today. I will soon be visiting my elementary and middle school Alma maters to educate students on how lifelong learning is the key to success, and how after school programs are an opportunity to begin that journey.

MDR-afterschool-programsInstilling Life-Long Learning from an Early Age Through Afterschool and Summer Programs

As a college-educated engineer, I had never taken a single business course. Starting a business required many new disciplines in sales, marketing, accounting, legal, operations, HR, software development, business plans, and raising money to name a few. Learning about these factors allowed me to turn my business idea into a reality. I am excited to share my experiences with an eager audience of students and talk about how they can look to the future with an eye for entrepreneurship. With more than 60% of high school students saying they would rather be entrepreneurs instead of employees (TheNextWeb), this presentation was very timely. Afterschool and summer programs can instill the concept of “lifelong learning” early on, which is a helpful bridge to an entrepreneurial future.

As more parents are both entering the workforce, after school programs are a growing trend. According to research conducted in 2014 by the After School Alliance, 10.2 million children (18%) were participating in an afterschool program. This was an increase from 2009 (8.4 million; 15%), and 2004 (6.5 million; 11%). The research also reported that nearly one in four families (23%) currently have a child enrolled in an after-school program.

Avoiding the Summer Learning Loss

Parents will be looking to augment school year learning with summertime programs. The Brookings Institute recently reported that students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning. They also reported that 73% of parents agree that it is important for their children to have summer activities that help deter summer learning loss and expand their minds with new knowledge.

What many refer to as “summer learning loss” can be combated by enrolling children in programs that extend learning beyond the school year. All over the country, summer reading, math, and science programs are available for students of all ages. Beyond traditional academics, parents also have the opportunity to enroll children in other programs that will open their minds and keep them from too much screen time.

A Short Span of Time That’s Got Big Potential

The value of what happens between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM during the school year can have a profoundly positive impact on our children’s lives. As adults and community leaders, we have an opportunity to help children grow no matter where they come from. Let’s make it easier, more affordable, and accessible for parents to connect with the programs both during school year and in the summer, that will help their children discover themselves beyond the walls of the school.

Let’s give them cooking lessons to sharpen their taste buds and introduce them to different cultures. We can also expand opportunities for America’s children to work together with their peers and learn the value of teamwork. As more schools cut budgets for art education and other enrichment programs, the time is now to ensure that our children are well heeled to grow and understand the value of lifelong learning and the importance of what happens after school.

When I started my company, the overarching goal was to help enrich children’s lives by making access to in-school, after-school, and summer programs more easily accessible to parents. Join me and let’s continue to be advocates for the value of after school programs by encouraging school district and administrators open new doors for parents and children nationwide.


Mike’s Mission….

Connecting parents to resources that enrich the lives of children.

Imagine a future in which each generation is happier and better off than the last, the long-term result being a much-improved society in which humankind can coexist.  Durham’s belief is that informed parenting is the key to all of this.  You need a drivers license to drive a car, yet parents receive no formal training, no license to obtain, no test to pass.  Yet, they hold the keys to the outcomes of their children and at scale, society as a whole. 

The first step is in giving parents the tools with which they can improve the outcome for their children.  Kids are in the classroom only 1,000 out of 5,000 waking hours each year- parents need to fill the remaining 4,000 hours with productive activities.  Durham has created a platform that connects parents with after school and enrichment resources that help parents make sure their kids are productive during those non-school hours. 

Durham obtained his degree in aeronautics in Silicon Valley’s San Jose State University, and then spent 20 years with Northrop Grumman, first in technical and later in program management.  Durham founded Peachjar in 2013, and Peachjar now serves over 8 million parents and works with thousands of program providers to deliver amazing opportunities that help parents in guiding their child toward lifelong success.  Mike’s LinkedIn Profile

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