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Mapping the Social Across Lived Experiences: Relational Geographies and After-School Time

Jennifer A. Vadeboncoeur & Louai Rahal

Attention to after-school programs has increased over the past 15 years for a number of different reasons. After-school programming is perceived by some adults as a potential way to address the growing concern about child and youth safety in the after-school hours and as a method of using after-school time to improve school outcomes (Duffett, Johnson, Farkas, Kung, & Ott, 2004; Huang & Cho, 2009). While homework help, general tutoring programs, and science, technology, and mathematics enrichment programs have been shown to affect academic achievement, research indicates that participation in extracurricular activities—including arts, digital media, sports, community, and faith-based programs—is correlated with achievement in school as well (Fredricks & Eccles, 2006b; Shernoff, 2010).

Much of the literature about after-school programs is shaped by adult concerns, including the requirements of funding agencies and organizations, and thus reflects research designed to capture data that measures both what is easily quantifiable and what is significant in characterizing a new field. The literature accordingly includes taxonomies of the various kinds of after-school contexts and the activities that are associated with them; demographic data about children, youth, and adult participants; methodological issues, including measures of participation in terms of attendance intensity, duration, and breadth; correlational research on the relationship between learning after school and learning in school; and, less often, descriptions of mentors’ and educators’ practices (Chaput, Little, & Weiss, 2004; Fredricks & Eccles, 2006a; Sefton-Green, 2013; Vadeboncoeur, 2006). A central contribution of this growing body of literature has been the important reminder that learning and teaching happen across the contexts of families, schools, and “the third learning environment beyond family and school” (Heath, 2001, p. 10).