Boys and Girls Club creates Homework Café for middle school students


Fewer parents will be begging their kids to do their homework thanks to a program at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

Newhall’s Boys and Girls Club location established the “Homework Café” at the start of the school year as a place for middle schoolers to complete their homework independently and collaboratively after school.

The café is held every Monday through Thursday from after school until around 4 p.m. and is currently attended by approximately 30 middle school students.

Janine Fairall, branch manager for the Newhall Boys and Girls Club, had the idea for the Homework Café when she realized middle school students needed a separate place to socialize while they worked on assignments.

“One thing that Janine has noticed is that middle school kids are much more social and they need that time to be social because that’s how they learn,” said David Menchaca, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Club.

Because of this, Fairall set up a room with tables for socialization and independent work as well as school textbook and computers with access to school campus portals and emails.

The Boys and Girls Club also instituted a weekly grade check and point system to incentivize students to turn in their homework after it is completed.

“We have weekly grade checks where they log onto their website and they get prizes for turning their homework in,” Fairall said.

These prizes include pizza parties, movie parties, cookies, muffins and more.

Menchaca said the program has already encouraged more middle school students to come into the Boys and Girls Club.

“A lot less kids are hanging out front, and a lot more kids are now hanging out inside and doing their homework together,” he said.  “What a dramatic difference just by creating space for them.”

Fairall said more teens are joining the club as a result of the new after-school program.

“In the last eight weeks we’ve been running the program, we’ve see different kids who weren’t members now becoming members,” she said.

For Fairall the program is especially important because she wants to give students the tools to succeed throughout their educational careers.

“We see that kids who do well in junior high do well in high school,” Fairall said.

Menchaca also believes the program will have a positive impact on the students’ futures.

“Long-term it will help them to work both in group settings, as they do in high school and college, and work independently with distractions,” he said.

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