Building Literacy Skills Beyond the School Day

Guest contributors Tempest and LaChelle in a classroom at their service site, Arlington Elementary School’s Judy Center in Baltimore, MD. 

At the end of the school day, the official duties of Maryland PreK tutors, Tempest and LaChelle, are complete; however, the first-year tutoring duo noticed an opportunity to extend literacy skill building beyond the school day and created the Lab Learners after school program for PreK students at the Arlington Elementary Judy Center. Tempest and LaChelle share their inspiration for the after school program, ways they support literacy growth outside of the classroom, and the success they have seen in their students thus far.

1. How did your “Lab Learners” after-school program get started?

The idea for Lab Learners came after brainstorming different ways we could serve our school and starting an after-school program was the one that got us the most excited! The original goal of Lab Learners was to offer the same type of intervention models we provide to children on our classroom caseload to a 20 additional preschool students after-school. At the beginning of January, we expanded the program from 20 students in PreK to 40 children in both preschool and Kindergarten!

2. What activities do you provide for students in the Lab Learner after-school program?

We use a plethora of learning interventions with our 28 preschool Lab Learners and nine Kindergarten Lab Learners. We use some from our Literacy Lab training, some from our lead teachers, and some of our own ideas. Before the program’s expansion, we alternated weekly from Repeated Read Aloud and vocabulary-based activities to theme-related crafts and gross motor activities. As a result of our recent expansion, we had to restructure our classroom management and activities to accommodate more children. The program is now being shifted towards three small group activities that rotate every 15 minutes. At the end of small group activities, we then come together for large group review and a comprehension and participation based, “Think, Pair, Share.”

4. How does the aftercare program you created compliment the work you do in the classroom as a Literacy Lab tutor?

We seize every moment to create a literacy learning experience for our students. We reinforced the theme and curriculum of the school through our lessons. We have also implemented the “Starfall Song,” name recognition and other transitions songs we have learned in our role as literacy tutors to create the connection between the classroom and Lab Learners.

5. What sort of positive growth have you seen in the students you work with in The Literacy Lab and Lab Learners?

Where do we begin?!? We see strides in our students on a daily basis. We have seen improvement in several areas such as social skills, participation, and a genuine excitement to learn! In one of our most recent projects the students worked together to create holidays cards for the lead teachers and para-educators. We selected students to write the teachers names, and everyone had a chance to write their own name. The teachers were extremely excited to see the progress the children have made in mastering name writing.

Learn more about The Literacy Lab tutor experience in Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, and Kansas City, MO at .