21C is based on 6 guiding principles and 6 program components. The core components of the School of the 21st Century are designed to be flexible and adaptable to the needs and resources of a given community and have proven successful in diverse settings.
Once these components are implemented and stable, families view the school as a community institution responding to their needs for support services. With this recognition established, the school can expand its range of services to meet other family needs, such as adult education and job training, by adding new components or by bringing existing services under the umbrella of the School of the 21st Century.
- Guidance and Support for Parents
- This family outreach component focuses on parents of children of all ages, from birth to five and throughout their school-age years. Recognizing parents' important role in their child's development before they ever come to school, 21C schools offer home visits, playgroups, and workshops to parents of young children to educate them about cognitive, social, linguistic, and motor development. 21C schools also make a special effort to reach out to and involve parents of school-age children, offering regular opportunities for parents to meet and discuss a wide range of parenting issues and to be involved in their child's school and education.
- Information and Referral Services
- 21C schools typically partner with other community organizations and agencies to meet the needs of children and families and stays up to date on the range of programs and services that are available in the community. In this way, 21C schools are able to inform families about childcare options, health care, financial assistance, social services and other family support services as needed.
- Networks and Training for Child Care Providers
- To strengthen the quality of local child care, 21C schools offer workshops, training opportunities, support groups and newsletters to support child care providers, both center-based and family day care homes in the community.
- Health and Education and Services
- In collaboration with community-based health care providers, 21C schools offer a range of services including: health, nutrition and fitness education, physical health services, care for children with special needs, developmental assessments, dental assessments and mental health services. 21C schools also work to improve the nutritional quality of school meals and snacks.
- Before-School, After-School And Vacation Programs for School-Age Children
- Either on site or at a linked site, 21C schools provide diverse, supervised activities for children during out-of-school time. School-age programs enable children to learn, grow and socialize in a safe and stimulating environment while also meeting the needs of working families.
- Early Care and Education
- 21C schools provide high quality, developmentally appropriate child care services for children 3 to 5 at the school or at a school-linked site, laying the groundwork for positive relations between the school and families, as well as children's later success in school.