When your kids are ready to head off to full-time schooling it may be a sigh of relief for you and your budget. If your work schedule allows you to work during their school hours, then you are set and don’t have to pay for child care anymore. For many parents, though, before or after school childcare comes into play so that they can get to and from work for the daily 9-5.
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A lot of parents overlook this detail because they don’t know what the school schedule will be like. Or, they forgot to account for their commute to work and home. Don’t worry I’m here to point you in the right direction of some help!
There are so many after school childcare programs nowadays that you really have a lot of options to choose from. I wanted to mention free options, cheaper options, and full price options because I know everyone has a different budget.
So without further ado, here is the list of
10 after school child care options
Free Options –
1. Family/Neighbor/Friend – If you are lucky enough to have family nearby you can enlist their help in after school pick up. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt’s, Uncles, Cousins anyone you are comfortable with asking to and watching your kids for a few hours. Trusted neighbors can be a great option! You can offer to pet/house sit or help them out in other ways to say thank you. Friends are the best! Get creative and work a schedule where you each take a day to carpool and pick up the kids. SAHM’s like this too because it gives them a day to have some alone time for a few hours( so don’t exclude them). Or trade friends for a favor, you can babysit on the weekend or help them out in some other way. Just remember to return the favor somehow…babysitting, homemade cookies, carpooling. Thank you and appreciation goes a long way.
2. Join an after school club – In today’s world, we are so lucky the extracurricular activities that are available to your children. Drama Club, Book Club, Robotics Club, Chess Club…etc. Many clubs after school are free and organized by a teacher or administrator. As a bonus, some schools even offer an after school activity bus to bring these kids home. Check with your school for available clubs and talk to you child about which one sounds interesting to him/her. This may only buy you an extra hour or so but sometimes that is all you need to get to school or home.
The downfalls to the free options are that they can both be unreliable. If your work schedule is not flexible this may not be the right choice for you. Sometimes people are sick and cancel on you or go on vacation. Life happens and ultimately you are responsible for your children. If you need something more stable then consider a paid option.
3. After school Sports – If your child is middle school aged then after school sports are a great option! Sports come with uniform/equipment fees. Practice may be vary from sport to sport but most are Mon-Fri and games will be during the week too. An activity bus is an option for transportation home if your child’s school offers one. Plan to make it to games to cheer your athlete on or to have transportation home afterward. For elementary school age, you would likely have to rely on a carpool with another teammate. Practices may be only be 1-2 times a week with weekend games.
4. School Site Enrichment Programs – Enrichment Programs can be anything ranging from sports. S.T.E.M. classes, jump rope, art, and even lego building. The catch with this option is that it only provides you with an extra hour and you would need to sign up for a different class for every day of the week. They run around $120 for 9 weeks of classes. So if you did 5 classes for Mon-Fri from 3:30 – 4:30pm,the cost comes out to be around $300 a month.
5. YMCA After School Programs – These usually stay at school or offer transportation to another school or their facility as part of the package. They offer supervised play and activities for you kids. Lots of the kids at the school participate so it doubles as a fun after school play date with friends. These run around $450 a month for after school only option( Seattle). If you need help financially they accept state assistance and have scholarship options too.
6. Boys and Girls Club After School Program – Boys and Girls Club is similar to YMCA. They can stay on site at the school or sometimes bus to another school or their facility it depends on each specific program. They offer supervised play and activities and many of the kids from school participate in these programs. The main difference here is the price. $300 a month is closer to what you can expect to pay here. If you need help financially they accept state assistance and have scholarship options too.
7. In-Home Daycare – I ran an in-home daycare for a short while so I have a soft spot for it in my heart. The people who run these are truly passionate about children! They are licensed by the state and most accept state financial assistance. Many either transport the kids from school to the daycare either by walking or driving. The school bus can drop them off as well if you set it up. Most offer play time and homework help, along with a snack. If a little sister or brother goes to daycare here it can be fun for the older sibling to come after school. They run around $450 or so monthly. This can really vary, though. Check out ChildcareAware.org to find a local daycare in your area.
Full Price Options –
8. Nanny/Babysitter – Having a nanny or babysitter allows your child to be home waiting for you. Also, you can choose what you prefer your child to do within those after school hours. The difference between the two is experience and pay. A nanny is a career with experience and training. A babysitter is someone who likes kids and needs occasional extra money. Both are great options depending on what you can spend and what you are looking for. Expect to pay at least $10 an hour for a babysitter and at least $15 an hour for a nanny ( Seattle pay scale). Care.com is an excellent resource to find both. Asking neighbors and school friends about sitters is a good way to find them. Nanny’s can be found through Nanny Agencies. Craigslist can be another good option to find them in the jobs/gigs/child care( community) sections. Always be sure to run a background check and driving abstract to be sure you’re leaving your child with someone safe. Care.com offers this already making it a streamlined way to find a caregiver. Nanny agencies will also offer this as well.
9. Tutoring Programs( off-site) – Tutoring programs offer all kinds of options. Math, reading, computers and really whatever your child needs. You can use this as a way to help your student excel or to get their homework done by the time you pick them up. Trained instructors will help your child feel confident in their learning abilities. These are pricey but may be well worth it! Running around $650 a month for the after school program with transportation provided.
10. Sports Programs( off-site) – There are different options depending on where you live. Here I have seen swimming, martial arts, and seasonal sports. Your child will be transported to an off-site facility and participate in the sport chosen. Some programs include a snack and homework help as well. It really varies from program to program. Pricing on these starts at $600 a month and goes us. If you are part of a Gym Club you can find these programs at a discounted rate sometimes too.
Choosing what is right for your family
There are many factors in choosing which option will be the right one for your family. Consider the price point you can afford and then consider your child’s interests. Also be aware if your student needs extra help with homework to be sure that they are getting help from someone. I suggest asking some of the parents at school what has worked for them and what they recommend.
Make friends with the other parents. I promise it is to your benefit and your child’s. Whether you need a favor one day or the parents let little Johnny come to your house for a play date because they know you.
Consider all your options. Can one parent start early and get off early? Can someone work from home? There are many little tweaks that can make your schedule flow more smoothly or allow you to save money.
Lastly, if something isn’t working for your family don’t be afraid to try something else. Sometimes it takes a couple tries to find the right childcare solution for your family. Wishing you a great year back to school
Please share what after school childcare option works for your family! Have I forgotten anything?