Fighting Poverty with Passion
It’s good to be back! Especially because upon my return from holiday break, I was greeted by the opportunity to get more involved with PYD’s afterschool program, the CP3 Afterschool Zone at KIPP Central City Primary. Out of all of my VISTA duties, my involvement with the afterschool program has quickly become my favorite part of my service. So, of course, I was thrilled when, upon my return, my co-worker, Sean asked for my help. More specifically, Sean, the manager of the Afterschool Zone, needed some support in organizing the Zone’s “Market Days.” The “market” was an idea that Sean came up with to encourage good behavior. For KIPP kids, they learn early on what “good behavior” means. So Sean maintains the same behavioral management system that KIPP enforces during the school day. And, although afterschool is supposed to be fun, it also has to be educational and high quality. Various workshops on Afterschool Quality standards have taught me what “high quality” actually involves. Sean knew long before I did that one of the markers of a high quality afterschool program is an alignment with the school day. That’s why at the inception of the program, Sean decided to enforce KIPP’s behavioral system.
So what does this have to do with the “market?” Well, the way it works is that during afterschool, depending on the child’s grade level, they either lose points for misbehavior or gain points for good behavior. But the fun part comes every two weeks when the kids get to go to the “market.” They get to cash in their behavior points in exchange for prizes with varying values. For example, if Bobby has 25 behavior points, he’s able to afford a fabulous kaleidoscope valued at 10 points. But now, Bobby is faced with a choice. Should he keep his extra 15 points and save up for the bouncy ball at a whopping 30 points? Or should he just go wild and splurge for 3 packs of 5-point starbursts? As you can see, “Market Day” is educational in several ways. First, it solidifies that link between school and afterschool but moreover, it helps the kids learn various life skills. They start to realize the value of money and of saving, the importance of patience, and the ability to have confidence in their decision-making. So, not only is helping to plan and manage these “Market Days” really fun, it’s also gratifying because I witness first-hand how the children develop these skills week by week.
One of my “Market Day” duties is to collect book donations from local bookstores so we can add another, more educational incentive to the market. Hopefully, with enough books, we’ll be able to hold an Afterschool Zone Book Fair so kids can go “shopping” for books with their behavior points. We’ll see what happens!