The Afterschool Reading Club

In 2016, the NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE) launched the Afterschool Reading Club (ARC), a literacy enrichment program for elementary school students living in temporary housing. In the program’s first year, the NYCDOE asked Studio in a School to be the cultural partner at six of the sites. In the third year of the program, Studio is currently serving 18 sites. Participating students get the opportunity to explore and create individual artworks as well as collaborate on projects in a variety of media, including drawing, collage, and painting.

The residencies have been designed to support the special literacy curriculum developed by the NYC Department of Education. Studies show that students in transitional housing are at a higher risk of falling behind their peers in school because they often change schools or must travel great distances to remain in their original neighborhood school. The ARC program was developed to address this need with extra homework help and a special reading and writing program that is augmented by art-making experiences at the housing site.

“The program provided these children with an excellent art experience”, said a teacher at The Landing Family Shelter. “We had an art exhibition at the end of the residency to celebrate the artists. The children were eager to share their creations with their parents and teachers. All of them left with a sense of accomplishment and pride.”

Sequential lessons and multi-step procedures in Studio’s visual arts residencies help develop higher level thinking skills and take literacy beyond vocabulary development, inviting students to reflect on audience and the purpose of communication. Sketchbooks are provided for each student to be used beyond the art sessions for writing and drawing prompts. A Studio Artist Instructor works closely with the classroom teachers to differentiate learning for each student. In addition, a parent workshop with art kits is offered to introduce ways to support art-making and related literacy development outside of the classroom. The program concludes with an exhibition of student work to celebrate and share student learning with their families.