From an Independent Project Lab to Virtual Craft Club, our Afterschool & Recreation programs have been uniquely positioned to safely continue supporting HFH’s K-12 students while NYC schools are closed.

A Safe Space for Tutoring & Independent Projects

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders present unique challenges to students experiencing homelessness, many of whom share a small living space with their siblings and caregivers. That’s why Saratoga K-12 Afterschool & Recreation is making use of its expansive on-site program space to provide students with their own, socially distanced space for independent projects and tutoring.

Saratoga’s Independent Learning Lab relies on a partnership between parents, students, K-12 Afterschool & Recreation staff, and Family Services staff. Students and parents may request access to the lab by directly contacting K-12 Afterschool & Recreation staff. Family Services staff may also assist in arranging support and tutoring for students and families in need.

In some cases, students seem eager to make use of the space for their own learning projects. Isaac, an avid participant in Saratoga’s lego team, has been keeping his STEM skills sharp by building his own bridges in the Independent Learning Lab.

Dance Class, Craft Club & Storytime Go Virtual

All HFH K-12 Afterschool & Recreation programs have been developing a slate of virtual activities for students to stay connected while receiving academic support and enrichments.

DMF Youth, a longtime HFH partner, has shifted to providing their weekly lessons virtually while social distancing measures are in place. This has allowed HFH students to stay active by practicing their dance skills, while exploring social-emotional learning concepts like growth mindset, mindfulness, and positive affirmations. DMF Youth’s unique lessons combine fitness with social-emotional learning — both of which are critical towards developing our students’ health and resilience in the face of crises.

Heidy Mendez, Education Programs Coordinator at Prospect Afterschool, has been pro-active in creating original virtual learning opportunities, like virtual storytime and craft club for her students, both those who reside at Prospect and those who reside in the surrounding community.

At a virtual storytime this month, Mendez read to children from the book Dear Juno by Soyung Pak. The book tells the story of a young boy named Juno who exchanges letters, drawings and small gifts with his grandmother, who lives in Korea. The story ends with the grandmother sending Juno the gift of a small airplane, indicating they’ll be able to meet in person soon.

The story is particularly poignant during stay-at-home orders, while students may need new ways of staying in touch with friends and family until they can meet again in person.  Recognizing this, Mendez provided students with activity template for writing their own letter to someone special to them.

Connecting Families with Remote Learning Resources

Staff at all four HFH Family Residences have been connecting with families to help support their children’s learning. Staff at several sites have been conducing phone check-ins with parents to help navigate NYC’s new distance learning system. They’ve also been providing regular activity packets, filled with learning supplies and activity sheets.

Staff have also been connecting families to HFH’s new hub of virtual learning resources at HFH LEARN. At HFH LEARN, parents can access free online learning resources like educational websites, virtual field trips, online learning games, and more.

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