How to successfully manage your school’s enrichment programs with ease and no cost

A Guide for After-School Enrichment Coordinators

It is a great practice to bring wonderful before- and after-school enrichment programs to our children right at our schools. School is the most convenient place for such programs for both children and parents, removing the need for transportation. Many enrichment programs today (whether from third-party providers or from school teachers or parent volunteers) can be extremely fun, creative, inspirational, and eye-opening for kids. For example, we’ve seen programs on robotics, sewing, ceramics, programming, chess, public speaking, cooking, sports, carpentry, and foreign languages. These are precious opportunities for children to be exposed to a wide variety of topics and to learn through fun.

However, managing after-school programs is a complex operation including selecting providers and programs, coordinating with enrichment providers on programs and locations, interacting with parents for registration, managing class volunteers and granting scholarships, maintaining up-to-date rosters to be on top of our children’s whereabouts after school hours, and managing payment to enrichment providers. To significantly reduce this complexity and to contribute to our school communities, 6crickets donates its online enrichment registration and management platform to schools/PTAs, third-party enrichment providers, and parents at no cost ( 6crickets has now worked with dozens of schools to manage their after-school enrichment programs and registrations. In this guide, we share with you the collective experience from working with these schools and give enrichment coordinators like you a roadmap and tools that you can leverage to significantly simplify the enrichment management process.

For the rest of this guide, we break down the enrichment management process into seven steps and describe what you need to do for each step in subsequent sections: (1) determine room and time availability for your school’s enrichment classes, (2) select enrichment providers and programs, (3) vet third-party enrichment providers, (4) finalize class details, (5) provide class listing and registration to parents, (6) organize parents volunteers for enrichment classes, (7) manage scholarships.

1. Determine room and time availabilities

First, you need to determine when and where enrichment classes could take place in your school. You will need to discuss with your school’s office managers who may in turn need to discuss with the principals or teachers on which class rooms can be made available for enrichment classes. After this discussion, you should know (1) the maximum number of classes that can be offered at your school, (2) the time period for each class, (3) the maximum number of students allowed for each class. With this information, you can now set off to look for suitable enrichment providers or teacher/parent volunteers to offer the classes.

2. Select enrichment providers and programs

It is often desirable to choose programs that are not taught in a regular school setting. Some key criteria are diversity, novelty, and learning through fun. Popular enrichment topics we have seen include sports, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), board games, foreign languages, and public speaking/drama. Sometimes, school teachers or parent volunteers may want to offer after-school enrichment classes. There are also many third-party enrichment providers near you. Here are some ways for you to gather enrichment provider candidates:

1. Do a Google (or Bing) search as well as Google Maps search on “after school enrichment”. Many choices should show up for your area. When searching on Maps, you can even see some review ratings.

2. Search on Yelp to also get provider ideas along with reviews.

3. You can look up a provider in Facebook to learn more about them including their reviews.

4. You can also outsource this part to 6crickets. 6crickets’s main service is, a one-stop shop for children’s camps and classes. So, we have worked with hundreds of local providers, many of which have had reviews. 6crickets can help you compile a set of providers for your school based on your interests. For more details, please visit and email

3. Vet third-party providers

It is common for school districts, schools or PTAs to vet a third-party provider candidate. Here is a list of forms that you may consider to ask them to submit to you, your school, or your school district for vetting and approval: state business license, city licenses, general liability insurance, certificate liability insurance for your school (they should be able to easily add a school to their liability insurance for free), each instructor’s driver’s license, state background check, fingerprint, adult sexual misconduct prevention certificate, volunteer agreement for your school, CPR first aid certificate, blood-borne pathogen certificate.

This can be a lot of tedious paper work. Nevertheless, you can leverage 6crickets’ free enrichment management platform to ask a provider to submit their vendor forms at 6crickets and grant you the permission to view and approve the forms online. This way, you can review all the forms of every provider online all on a single web page. No more paper waste and losing track of all this paperwork!

4. Finalize class details

Once you’ve vetted and approved a set of providers or lined up teacher or parent volunteers, you now need to work with them to finalize the class sessions to be offered at your school and assign time, day, and a room location for each session. At the end of this process, for each provider, you will obtain the following information (1) provider name and description (2) for each program this provider offers at your school, you should have program name and description, age or grade range. (3) the provider may offer the program for multiple sessions at different times and rooms; for each session, you should have the room number, days of the week, start and end time, start and end date, the minimum number of students required for the session to take place, and the maximum number of students allowed for the session.

If your school requires parent volunteers for enrichment classes or offers scholarships to low-income families, you will need to communicate your policies and practices with providers as well. Section 6 and 7 below present how you should handle these cases.

Now that you’ve finalized your after-school classes at our school, it is time to let the parents know and register for the classes.

5. Provide class listing and registration to parents

For this critical step, you should keep these important goals in mind for a smooth and efficient operation: (1) All classes should be listed clearly at one place for parents to find and choose. (2) Make it easy for parents to register any classes across different providers with just one registration form. The less paperwork, the more efficient it is for everyone. (3) Make payment distribution to providers as simple as possible to minimize your time spent here. (4) Efficiently maintain an up-to-date roster for all classes across different providers even in the face of cancellations and last minute registrations so that you as enrichment coordinators and school administrators will always know which student goes to which class.

The good news is that you can achieve all of these goals easily with 6crickets’ free, one-stop enrichment online registration platform (

You can email the class information you gathered from Step 4 to 6crickets’ support staff. They will then work with your providers and teacher/parent volunteers to set up their classes and create a one-stop online registration website portal dedicated for your school. You can then include a “Register After School Classes” hyperlink pointing to this portal in your school’s or PTA’s website or in your school’s newsletter to parents.

In more detail, here are the key time-saving features that this service offers:

1. One-stop enrichment online registration portal for the parents of your school: parents can come to a central page to see all the programs offered, free or not, and register for classes with a single login and registration form.

Parents no longer need to worry about scattering their logins and children’s information all over the place, but keep it centrally and safely at 6crickets. (Helen Wang, the founder of 6crickets, is a security and privacy expert and 6crickets gives the state-of-the-art protection for its users’ information.)

When a class fills up, parents will be able to sign up to receive notifications of new spots opening.

If a parent does not have a credit card, (s)he can pay the provider by check and be issued a discount code to register online at the school registration portal. If a parent has no online access, the student can also be added to the class roster online.

2. Automatic, instant payment to providers:When parents pay, 6crickets sends payment to enrichment providers instantly and automatically. So, you no longer need to deal with payment or manual invoicing with enrichment providers.

3. Central roster management: 6crickets offers a central page for enrichment coordinators or school administrators to view all the rosters from different providers in real-time. So, even if there are new last minute enrollment or cancellations, you will always have the up-to-date, accurate roster information for each class from every enrichment provider. The roster contains all the essential information about a student including parents’ contacts, emergency contacts, pick up contacts, medical information, etc. (you can find the registration form at When a student needs to cancel a class, providers can issue a refund from their rosters online.

4. Flexible configurations: You can configure registration start and end time, waiver forms, custom questions for parents to answer during checkout.

5. Fund raising: You can configure to collect fees and donations in the enrichment registration process to raise funds for your school or PTA.

6. Live tech support: 6crickets has a full-time support team that can assist you with anything you need along the way. You can either chat with them online during work hours or email them at

This service is part of 6crickets’ donation program to schools and the education community. So, it is completely free for parents, schools/PTAs, and providers. There is a standard credit card fee charged by the credit card payment processing company Stripe (2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction); typically such credit card fees are already included in the class pricing.

6. Organize parent volunteers for enrichment classes

Some schools have required or encouraged parent volunteers to chaperone at each enrichment class. We have seen schools do this in one of two ways.

In the first way, one parent signs up to chaperone every date of a program. This parent gets the class for free or at a highly discounted price for his/her child. In this case, you will send parents an email in advance seeking volunteers. You can then create a discount code at 6crickets for the parent volunteer to use at the checkout. You also need to inform the provider about this practice. Some schools require the provider to shoulder the cost of the volunteer. Other schools pay the remaining cost to the provider for the volunteer’s child. Please inform providers which volunteer will be present at the class.

The second way of organizing parent volunteers is to require every parent with a student in class to chaperone at least one date of the program in order for his/her child to participate.You can configure 6crickets to ask a question during checkout about which date the parent can volunteer and ask him/her to input the date in a parent volunteer Google Sheet collectively maintained by all the parents of the students of the class. Then, you can share the volunteer schedule spreadsheet with the provider. 6crickets Tech Support can easily assist with this process.

7. Manage scholarships

We highly recommend that you provide scholarship support to students from low-income families. Giving these students equal access to wonderful enrichment programming can change their lives. You can raise funds for scholarship purposes through the 6crickets registration process by charging parents fees or collecting donations (see Section 5 above).

To determine which families need help, you can leverage Google Forms to create a scholarship application form and distribute to your families. 6crickets can serve as the intermediary to approve applications based on your criteria so that family financial data is kept private from other school families including enrichment coordinators. 6crickets can then issue discount codes for low income families to register for enrichment classes for free or at a highly discounted rate.

Please be sure to coordinate with enrichment providers about payment for scholarship students and how many spots to allocate for these students in each class. You can open registrations for scholarship students first before announcing registrations to the rest of the families. You will need to send checks to providers to cover scholarships.

Concluding Remarks

You are doing your school’s children a great service by bringing wonderful enrichment programming to your school. The children will be exposed to a wide diversity of topics and learn through fun. It is a complex operation to manage after-school enrichment. Nevertheless, we hope this guide provides a clear roadmap for you. With the right process and the right set of tools, you can bring the best enrichment to your school with ease and at no additional cost.

6crickets’ mission is to bring the best enrichment programs to children through the best tools for parents, providers and schools. You can count on 6crickets to help you manage your school’s enrichment easily. Please email 6crickets’ Tech Support Team with any questions at

The Author’s Biography:

Helen J. Wang Ph.D. is the CEO and cofounder of 6crickets which offers a one-stop shop for children’s camps and classes and supports enrichment providers and schools with free online registration platforms. Helen oversees the company’s strategic directions, product management, sales, marketing, and advanced research. has supported more than 800 enrichment education businesses and served hundreds of thousands of parents. Prior to creating 6crickets, Helen was a world-renowned computer scientist conducting pioneering research in security, privacy and systems and transferring her inventions into real-world products impacting all Internet users. She published more than sixty research articles and spoke at numerous computer science conferences. She mentored more than thirty Ph.D. candidates for their research or dissertation, many of whom became professors at top universities and key leaders at high-tech companies. Helen received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 2001 and her Bachelors from UT Austin in 1994. Helen is the mom of Corlan (born in 2007) and Quincy (born in 2009) who gave her inspiration for her 6crickets endeavor. She is also an active PTA member at her sons’ school.

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Featured image copyright: jovannig / 123RF Stock Photo

7 Coolest Gifts for All Your Kids’ Easter Baskets

Image 1  – Source Pixabay

With Easter coming up, once again parents around the globe start thinking about the presents for their little (or not so little) ones. Traditionally, these presents should in some way be Easter-themed, meaning that they contain various types of bunnies, colorful eggs and, most importantly, a basket to put the present in. However, if you want to buy something your child something they’ll really like, use or play with, you might need to take a tiny step away from the tradition. Here are some cool ideas for you.

Coloring books

These are great for any child, no matter how old. This present can actually work even if you have a teenager since they are made to be appropriate for any age, even for adults. They come in every imaginable theme, so you just need to pick one that suits your child’s interests. Add a box of crayons, so that they can start coloring straight away, and there you have it, a cool gift for a cool kid.

Image 2 – Source Pixabay

An interesting toy

Again something that could be given to a child of any age, since we don’t just mean any toy, but the collectible ones. No matter what your kid’s favorite cartoon, TV show, film, or even computer game is, you can find the perfect Pop Vinyl collectible toy for them. You can get an actual figure for your kid, but also a keychain for yourself that matches your kid’s toy.

A backpack

This is another cool idea since your child can take it to school, soccer practice, a picnic or a school field trip. Choose the size that’s right for your child and the color or motifs they like. There are super cool kids’ animal-shaped backpacks, and even some dinosaur-looking ones with spikes, that your kids will love for their fun appearance. Plus, there are super modern anti-theft backpacks with a USB charging port for teenagers, so that they can charge their phones or tablet computers as they go.

Image 3 – Source Pixabay

A DIY kit

Whatever your kid may be interested in, there’s an ideal kit for them somewhere out there. You just need to find it. From making their own jewelry, model planes, cars or buildings to various science kits available, you’re bound to find something that your child will love. Bird watching kits, playdough kits, or even spy and detective kits, there’s no limit to what you can get nowadays. And let’s not forget the various Easter egg paint sets. So, inspire creativity in your child with this cool gift idea, they’ll be grateful.

A book

Some kids might say that this isn’t a very cool gift, but that’s not really true. It all comes down to picking the right book. So, if your child hasn’t read any of the Harry Potter books, now’s the time. Another good option is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children trilogy. If not one of these, find out what your kid enjoys reading and go for that. There are the great detective and mystery novels for children and young adults, so learn what children are into these days and buy a cool book to get your child reading with pleasure.

Image 4 – Source Pixabay

A board game

Here’s a gift that can be a lot of fun for the whole family. There are many board games to choose from. Some of them are strategy games, others are educational, but whichever you opt for, you’ll encourage your kid to spend more time playing with their siblings and other kids. From classic games like Scrabble, Monopoly, and Risk, to some more modern ones, like Carcassonne, or even A Game of Thrones, you’ll find one suitable for your kid. Besides, if you don’t like any of these, you can always buy Uno cards or other card games, like Saboteur.

Anything with bunnies

Let’s not skip the obvious. Whatever you find that has a bunny on it, it’s good for your kid’s Easter basket. From lovely bunny mugs, various pouches and purses, to shirts and pajamas with bunnies, there’s no going wrong here. And if your kid loves playing, there are cute plush bunnies and bunny-shaped stacked toys you can get them.

So, find a lovely Easter basket and fill it with joy for your kid. Basically, you can buy almost anything if you put it in an Easter basket, throw in some candy eggs and a chocolate bunny or two. You just need to know what your child preferences are and you’re all set.

Two is Better than One: 6 Essential Things for Your Twins

If you are expecting or preparing for twins, you may already know that the stuff that you may need will be different than what you would purchase for a single child.

For moms of multiple soon-to-be children, preparing for some essential products is significant. The items below might be the most useful accessories for twins, and will surely make your life as a mom as well as a dad a bit easier.

Double Frame Strollers

Frame strollers are essential for the first year, and it is lightweight and easy to manage. But for your twins, a double stroller may suit perfectly. If you want to go outside for grocery or exercise with your newborn, you will naturally need one car seat for each.

Double frame stroller lets you carry your twins with ease. These strollers come with an umbrella or peekaboo windows. Before purchasing, check first its size, adjustments and other features for your comfort. Some of its features may include non-flat tires, removable car seats, or quick fold systems.

Two Bouncy Chairs

Bouncy chairs can be a lifesaver for parents who need to get the chores done around the house. Babies will love the calming feeling of the bouncy chair and will make your babies satisfied with enough time. Ensure that you get two bouncy chairs, arrange them up the angle where twins can see each other, and don’t forget to keep your sight in them too.

Twin Carrier

Twin carrier is another invention dedicated to the mom of twins, which lets you carry two children together and designed to minimize discomfort while carrying in back and front position.

Some carriers can easily disconnect into separate carriers for situations when each parent wants to bring a twin on their own. Make sure to choose a carrier with pockets that are spacious enough to suit their diapers and other essentials.

Table for Two Feeding Pillow

Table for two feeding pillows might also be a lifesaver for parents of twins. This durable and secured twin feeder will save your time, energy, and makes every mealtime more convenient for you and your twins.

Say goodbye to struggles on how to position your twins when bottle-feeding them. These baby accessories usually come with a safety harness to hold your infants in place securely, and armrests to prevent strain from your arms, neck, and back when feeding your twins.

Comfortable Swaddles

Swaddling is a way of comfortably wrapping your baby in a blanket for security and warmth. It keeps your babies from other disturbance such as their startle reflex, helps your babies stay toasty and warm and even helps to calm your babies.

In preparing a swaddle, make sure to know how to perform it correctly. Wrapping your babies tightly or doing other improper swaddling strategies may cause damage to joints and soft cartilage of your infant’s hip sockets.

Crib for Twins

Traditional and most common cribs are usually measured around 52 by 28 inches, which can accommodate your twins for the first few months. But some parents might want to separate their twins to different cribs from the beginning.

However, if you want to put your twins in one crib, make sure not to lose your sight from them. When your twins start rolling over a lot and often kicking each other, you can put a separator between your twins, to avoid chances of injury for both of them.

If you think that you should not separate your twins, consider those cribs specially created for twins, though this crib may be hard to find.


Having twin children can be a combination of both fun and challenging work. If you are a soon-to-be parent of twins, prepare all the things and stuff you will need to raise your children comfortably. A lot of accessories are available online on sites such as Deal Wiki where they offer a lot of toys and other accessories.

7 Unique Spices to Spice Up Your Culinary Skills

Although common spices like cinnamon, oregano, cumin, parsley, and thyme are versatile and flavorful, there are only so many ways to combine them, and eventually, you may feel stuck in a rut.

With hundreds of culinary spices all over the world, you have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to adding zest to your cooking.

If you’re tired of using the same herbs and spices in every dish, or if you are simply feeling creative, pick up a new spice or two the next time you go to the grocery store and experiment with some new flavors in your favorite cookware.

Here are a few ideas to get you started in spicing up your culinary skills.

1. Sumac

With its tart, fruity flavor, the powder from dried sumac berries can be used in any dish that you might add a fresh squeeze of lemon too. Try sprinkling this flavorful, reddish-purple spice on hummus or adding it to your favorite type of fish or red meat. Sumac is commonly used in North African, Middle Eastern, and Southern Mediterranean cuisine and was used as the tart, acidic element in cooking before the Romans introduced lemons. However, one variety of edible sumac—North American Sumac, or Rhus aromatica—grows in the U.S.

2. Juniper Berries


Like sumac, juniper also grows in North America. Perhaps the only spice that comes from a conifer, juniper berries grow on small shrubs that are common in the Northern Hemisphere. Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest historically cooked crushed juniper berries with bison meat. Juniper berries are also popular in European cuisine. Try them in sauerkraut or in marinades, stuffing, sauces, or stews for wild game or pork. Their tart flavor especially helps balance the gaminess of venison.

3. Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir lime leaves grow on the makrut shrub, or Citrus hystrix, which is native to Southeast Asia and is also grown in California, Florida, and Australia. Although best used fresh, they are more commonly found dried or frozen for purchase in Asian grocery stores in the U.S. They have a citrusy pine scent that is similar to lemon verbena. Popular in Cambodian, Malaysian, Balinese, and Thai cuisine, kaffir lime leaves are often used in curries, stir-fries, soups, and salads. If you enjoy the Southeast Asian cuisine, this is an excellent spice to add to your pantry!

4. Pasilla de Oaxaca Chile


A unique spice for true chili fans, this lesser-known smoked chili is grown only in the hilly Oaxacan region of southern Mexico. With a pungent fruit flavor, the dark red pasilla de Oaxaca chile is similar to a chipotle but with less heat and a richer smoky flavor that brings out notes of ham and bacon even in meatless dishes. They are excellent in posole, mole negro, bean dishes, soups, sauces, and Rellenos.

 5. Grains of Paradise


These seeds from the Amomum melegueta tree in West Africa were once used as a pepper substitute when pepper itself became too expensive. It is commonly used in both African and Caribbean cuisine. The unique name comes from spice traders in the middle ages who claimed the glossy brown seeds grew only in Eden and were collected from the rivers that flowed out of the garden. With zesty notes of butter, cardamom, coriander, flowers, and pepper, grains of paradise can be used to enhance the flavor of okra, steak, or anything you would use black pepper on.

6. Fenugreek

Used primarily in Egyptian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine, fenugreek seeds are common in curry and chutney. Purchase ground seeds for general cooking—they are dense and difficult to grind at home—and whole seeds for use in pickling blends and teas. Fenugreek was traditionally grown for its healing properties and for use in Egyptian embalming rituals. It has a sweet, nutty flavor with a maple aroma. Roasted fenugreek seeds are sweeter than those that are ground when raw.

7. Calabrian Chili

Here is another great spice for chili lovers. The Calabrian chili often referred to as pepperoncini, originates from the Calabrian region of Italy and is a common ingredient in Italian cuisine. With notes of salt, smoke, and fruit, this small, spicy chili goes well with pizza, sandwiches, and salami. Calabrian chili paste is excellent with meat and pasta dishes, and Calabrian chili oil is delicious on just about anything, from fish to salads.

From an exotic black pepper substitute to traditional curry ingredients, there are many unique spices available for you to add to your pantry and spice up your culinary skills. Instead of turning to the same herbs over and over again, try experimenting with American-grown juniper berries next time you make pork, or liven up a Mexican-inspired dish with the unusual pasilla de Oaxaca chile. Whether your preference is for exotic flavors or traditional comfort food, there are plenty of unique spices to choose from when you feel stuck in a cooking rut.

Author’s Bio:

Melissa is a freelance writer and food blogger at She is very passionate about cooking, creating and sharing unique recipes or just simply cooking good food. Melissa has also developed an interest in a variety of other things including healthy diet and traveling in new places around the globe to experience different cuisines and learning different cultures.