Picking Smart–After School Programs

After School ProgramWith the onset of school beginning, many parents are having to think about what to do when the bell rings. Many parents have to find a good after-school program for their children. I’m one of those parents. I had to find an after-school program that would be beneficial for my son’s mind, keeping him socially involved and playing with other kids, as well as maintaining a safe environment for him to be in.

How to find a great after-school business?

There are many options available for after school in most areas, and some that you may not be aware of. The main program that most people enroll their kids in are the daycares in the area. Daycares are set already set up with classrooms and playgrounds.

Another option are gyms or recreation centers. Most of these do not provide after school childcare, but some do and they are worth looking into. They may offer some interesting activities. For instance, an after school program that is run by a gym in my area has 2 indoor pools that they let the kids swim in twice a week. The children learn swimming skills and they also get to do something fun that others don’t get to do every week. Another thing they offer in this program is a Zumba class for the kids. The kids love boogying to the dance music, but they are getting lots of exercising at the same time.

You may also come across athletic or art centers that do after school. Some of these may include children’s art center, gymnastics businesses, or karate class centers. The children are not doing these activities the whole time, but they will have certain focuses on these special areas of learning.

Things to Consider

When choosing which location is best for your child, there are some factors that you need to take into consideration. A specific place may seem perfect, but it’s always good to find out all that you can before making a decision like this.

  • Reviews and Reputation

One of the most important things to check on are the reviews for that business and, in particular, their after school program. Ask around to see if others have heard anything positive or negative. Do an intensive online search. Sometimes you may find reviews on various websites. It may take a lot of time to go through and locate reviews, but it is worth it. Something to keep in mind is that usually people review businesses when they are either exceptionally happy or exceptionally unhappy with the service they have received. Most people don’t take the effort to review businesses that fall in the middle ground. Also look at the dates of the reviews. Deceitful merchants may post solicited reviews leaving multiple 5 star reviews on the same date as each other. This is just something to keep in mind that I have noticed happen before.

  • Transportation

Check on the transportation, if any, that is provided. Most after school programs will offer transportation from the school to the center, depending on the area. Also, contact the business prior to enrolling to check on which schools they service. You may find that, despite the center being in your area, they may not service you child’s school with after school transportation. This may limit the programs that you can enroll your child into.

  • Activities

Each program will offer different activities and you will want a good list of the schedule they will maintain. A good after school program will have a homework time schedule of about an hour after arriving at the center. This is one of the best things ever, trust me. Their school work will be completed before they are allowed to move on to the other activities and you will not have to worry about it once they get home. It is still a good idea to review what they did, however, as the instructors may not be able to check everyone’s homework. You will also want to ensure that you are comfortable with the provided activities. As I mentioned earlier regarding the swimming pool twice a week at that gym. Some parents may not be comfortable with that, regardless of the presence of two lifeguards. Always check with the after school program regarding what they will be doing.

  • Location, Location, Location

Location is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, you want to make sure that you are sending your child to a place where you are comfortable with the neighborhood. If this is something that is a major concern of yours and you don’t know the neighborhood well enough to judge it, consider riding through it several times, at different points during the day. Secondly location is important because it needs to be close enough to where either you are working, or where you live. It will really be a lot better for your gas tank and your commute time if you are able to get to the location without having to go to far outside of your regular route to get home.

  • Cost and Fees

For obvious reasons it is a good idea to review the cost and fees with each program that you are considering. There can be huge variations in this department because I’m discussing many different options–Karate, gymnastics, daycare centers, etc.


Good luck on the hunt!

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