The quality and type of after-school carea child receives directly correlates to their performance in school and growthin academic abilities. The UCLinks program was created to offer low-incomechildren a quality, academic after-school program. In the UCLinks program, theyhave children develop their academic skills in language arts, readingcomprehension, off-computer activities, and mathematics. The UCLinksafter-school program works on bringing the children up to grade level orfurthering their development. It does not serve as a homework center forchildren.
Instead, the UCLinks program concentrates on fostering their academictalent in an organized environment. In Posner and Vandells article, theydocument research that promotes organized, academic after-school care,”Childrens academic and conduct grades were positively related to timespent in one-to-one academic work, with an adult, whereas academic and conductgrades were negatively correlated with the amount of time spent in outdoorunorganized activities. ” (454) The children of the UCLinks program workwith a mentor in 1-1 or 1-2 setting, where mentors specifically focus onacademic areas they need to improve or help them develop their abilities to thefullest. 1B. The UCLinks program understands how important reading skills are tochildrens success in school. If children do not learn to read at grade level,they have a greater risk of falling behind in class work and eventually droppingout.
The UCLinks program uses a combined approach to reading instruction withwhole language and specific skills development. In each mentoring session of theUCLinks program, the mentors practice whole language instruction. Children havethe opportunity to read one on one with their mentor. Bill Honig advocates thisinteraction with the children, “Teachers classroom routine should includereading good literature to students and discussing it with them, especially byasking questions that stretch childrens minds beyond the literal meaning ofthe text. “(3) The active participation the children engage in while readingto their mentors is productive because the children are able to practicedecoding, automatic recognition of words, and improve their readingcomprehension. Mentors ask their students relevant questions about the book thatpertain to the plot, main points and theme of the story.
The UCLinks programalso practices the specific skills development with their students. Specificskills development focuses on phonemic awareness, phonics, print awareness, wordstructure, and word-attack and self-monitoring skills. Honig recommends specificskills development, “Students should be taught these skills in an active,problem-solving manner that offers plenty of opportunities to practice theskills in actual reading and writing situations. “(13) Children work oncomputer software like Kid Phonics to develop these specific skills which willultimately help them read better.
The children of the UCLinks program can alsospend off-computer time writing stories and poems which immerses them in printawareness and word structure. 1C. In “Children, Mathematics, andComputers” by D. H Clements, he writes “It appears the dominant focusof school mathematics instruction in the last decade has been on computationalskills(which students are learning fairly well), but that the development ofproblem-solving skills and conceptual understanding has beeninadequate.
“(1) The focus on computational skills rather than theproblem-solving and conceptual understanding hinder the mathematical abilitiesof students. As math becomes more abstract, they do not have the required mindstate to solve problems with higher level concepts. The UCLinks program supportsthe teaching of relational mathematics, according to Skewer, knowing what to doand why, over rote learning with their students. The solid mental foundationrelational mathematics builds will increase the mathematical abilities of thechildren and help them problem-solve as math becomes more complex and abstract. The teaching of relational mathematics in the UCLinks program can be observedwith the use of pencil and paper, manipulatives, and computers to help childrenunderstand mathematical concepts and problem-solving. These practices arefurther supported in Clements article, “National Council of Teachers inMathematics recommends that students be actively involved in learning,experimenting with, exploring, and communicating about mathematics.”(4) Thedevelopment of childrens mathematical abilities increases when they actuallylearn the concepts behind the math problems and how to solve them on their own.The interaction children have with pencil and