Unfortunately, the average school day and the average work day are not the same length. For parents who have to work outside the home a full day, it can be challenging to find a good after school program to fill in those hours between the time school lets out and the time you get off of work.
Here are some tips for finding an after school activity program that works for your schedule and meets your child’s needs.
Contact Your Child’s School
The first step is to check with your child’s school and see what is available on their campus, or what programs are affiliated with their school. The school principal can point you in the right direction and let you know websites to visit and organizations to contact.
Local Clubs and Organizations
You might also like to check with your local Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts counsel to see what is available for after school. Other organizations to consider are your local place(s) of worship, boys’ and girls’ club, and community or recreation center. Even your local daycare center might be associated with a program for school-aged kids.
Home-Based After School Care
Ask your neighbors, or look at local classifieds (online and offline) for parents who offer after-school child care in their homes. This may be a home daycare with extended hours for older kids, or something similar.
Now that you have some specific programs in mind, one of the best ways to determine what will work for you and your child is to go and observe the program. Drop in unannounced if possible. Look for some of the following:
- What are the kids doing? If everyone is disorganized, unsupervised, or if you see groups of kids plotting mischief in the corners, then you may want to reconsider.
- How many adults are there per child? It’s important for there to be enough staff to keep things safe and under control.
- How do the kids seem? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves? Are they happy and engaged in the activities? What kind of activities are there?
- Check the cleanliness of the facility, especially if they serve a snack or food.
- If the program does have a snack for the kids, what kind of food do they serve? Are you comfortable with it?
Questions to Ask
Talking to the staff is important. Here are some details you might want to ask about.
- What are the holiday and cancellation hours?
- How many kids attend on average?
- What are the fees, and do they vary? Do you have to pay extra for field trips, food, or other things?
- What is the pick-up time, and what happens if you are running late? You’ll want to know what the policy is if you can’t get there right at pick-up time.
With these things in mind, you should be able to find an after school activity program that works for you and your child.
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