P&K How To: How To Select After-School Care
By Leah Kackley
Those intermediary hours between school’s final bell and the time everyone gets home from work can be tricky. Kids are capable of staying by themselves at widely varying ages. But until that time is reached, after-school care is important for both safety and developmental reasons. Here are some things to consider when picking the best care for the kids.
Consider what the kids need most during those few hours between school and home. Is it homework help? Extracurricular enrichment? Simple, mindful babysitting? Knowing the goals help narrow down the care opportunities that will meet those goals best. As always, get recommendations from trusted friends whose parenting goals are similar to help find out hidden gems.
Just because a certain care center will pick up the kids, teach them pre-calculus and prepare them to win a Tony one day, if it costs more than the parents’ salary, it’s not going to work. As with all things, when it comes to the care of kids, know what you can afford. Don’t scrimp on care, but be mindful of the point of diminishing returns, monetarily. A lot of schools already have after-hours programs that are staffed with people who like being with kids and can help with homework as well as be a friendly face at the end of a long day. And these programs in particular can be very budget-friendly.
Use The Co-Op Mentality
Gathering talents and ideas from one’s “village” is a great way to think outside the box to create a care situation that is not only easy on the wallet but also enriching for the kids. Trading time at different houses in a tight-knit neighborhood or having a rotation of parents who take turns coming home early from work or carpooling kids to an enrichment program could be a unique way of allowing adults to share their talents with the kids.
After school care can look like so many things. At the end of the day, though, as long as the kids are safe and loved, then the choice is a good one. Everything else is gravy.