Join in on the Fun at One of the Library's Awesome After-School Programs

April 20, 2018 | Eila

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After School graphicHere at the Toronto Public Library we’ve built a reputation on our fabulous Ready for Reading programs and recently our Youth Hubs have received a lot of positive coverage in the press for all the wonderful work they do, but what about our fantastic middle childhood programs for children between six and 12?

At many of our 100 branches you can find amazing after-school programs for this age group, and they come in a surprising variety! The City of Toronto’s website mentions that, while these children are in school for most of the day, they also have a lot of time when they are out of school and their parents may be working or attending school. It is critical to keep them safe and engaged and TPL can help with that!

The Maria A. Shchuka Branch offers an incredible example of well-run after-school programs with tons of variety. At Maria A. Shchuka programs are run every day for the after-school crowd. Children and their families come out in droves to attend! Here, I speak with Children’s Services Specialist Ana Malespin (AM) and Children’s Librarian Hector Vargas (HV) about how they run their fabulous programs!

How long have you been running after-school programs at Maria A. Shchuka?

AM: After-school programs have been running in different capacities at Maria A. Shchuka for a very long time. Long before myself or Hector worked here! A lot of our parents depend on them.

Describe the after-school programs on offer here at Maria A. Shchuka.

HV: They’re daily and they’re super popular! Perler Beads

AM: We have After School Club, where there’s crafts and robotics. There’s Fairbank Fridays, which is a partnership with our local community centre. Then there’s Perler Beads.

HV: Perler Beads is unbelievably popular! And we started a trend here at Maria A. Shchuka. I’ve had a few branches contact me and ask how to run the program. It’s great.

AM: We’ve also got our Tween Hub. It’s modelled after our Youth Hub, with robotics, gaming and crafts.

HV: Tween Hub is strictly for the older kids 9-13. It gives them a space of their own and they can transition into the Youth Hub.

AM: Overall, we’re highly responsive to what parents and children ask for. We’re great about having a longstanding relationship with the members of our community

HV: Yes, our staff have to be on top of things, and stay very flexible. We exemplify Let’s Go!

AM: And we’ve always been about Find a Way to Say Hi! Lego Mindstorm

What program has been your absolute favourite so far?

AM & HV: Tween Hub

AM: It’s a program we’ve grown together based on what the tweens wanted and asked for.

What upcoming program are you most looking forward to?

AM: Interactive Storytelling. A chance for children to participate in the storytelling rather than just listening!

HV: In the summer when I plan on having even more robotics programs. The kids have really been enjoying Lego Mindstorm.

If you had no worries about money, what would be your dream program to run?

AM: Adding snacks and tutors to the Tween Hub! Or having a true makerspace where everything is available to use and kids can go ahead and create anything they want. A lot of our kids still don’t have those kind of technological skill sets, so we’re working on changing that.

HV: I absolutely agree with the makerspace. I’d also add more robots and a whole lot of iPads.

UkuleleIf the Maria A Shuchuka branch isn’t in your area have a look at all of our after school programs and find one close to you! I took a close look at the list and found some truly inventive ones I thought were worth mentioning. These fabulous after school programs are all coming up in April:

  • The Fun Zone. What more could you want from an after school club? Tuesdays at Locke for kids 6+
  • Test your skills at brain teasers and puzzles at the Story Fun Club at Elmbrook Park on Wednesday afternoons