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Afternoon Delights: Delightful And Affordable After-School Options For Your Children

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

One of the biggest “buzz” words and key phrases among parents these days is the term STP or stay-at-home parent. More and more parents (who can afford to) are opting for a more “modernized” version of traditional values, especially when it comes to children and family life.

More and more moms and dads are getting comfortable with the idea of staying home and raising their children. Many are even effect a business from home…but for those who would still rather be at the office or who simply can’t opt for that option, but would, nevertheless, like to know where their kids are and what they are doing, some piece of mind from the professionals to help bring you some peace of mind.

According to the experts, parents working (outside the home) don’t have to compromise on the quality of care their children receive when they are still at the office. In fact, they note, that today there are many savvy, sensible solutions to meet all needs, budgets and schedules.

After-school “assistance programs” are offering more (interesting) alternatives, and are becoming more progressive and diversified. From full-service outlets offering kids inspiration through healthy fun and activity, such as dancing, fencing, digital movie making and homework help to those specializing in one of many innovative arenas, many are even “hiring” and using older kids/teens as an inspiration and as a way to keep them busy, addressing every family’s needs.

Investigating Your Options: While many schools now offer after school programs for children of working parents, a structured, academic environment may be “too much” for a child who has just spent the better portion of his/her day in a scholastic setting. Consider instead more “informal” surrounding such as a (comforting) home environment with a sitter. If it’s additional social interaction that you and your child want and need, then perhaps a program that helps foster relationships would be the better option, or you could do a little of both.

Apply Sense And Sensibility: You’ll want to leave your child with someone who is responsible and who you can trust. You also don’t want to take up a second job to be able to afford and pay for it (childcare). Consider a trusted teen, maybe one that’s part of the family that you KNOW you can count on and trust. Offering them a reasonable salary to escort your child to dance or little league practice will ensure your child is being supervised, and will also teach the older child about responsibility and earning his/her keep, and keeping him or her safely off the streets. If you’re not comfortable entrusting you child to another youngster, consider instead a professional after school program that shuttles children to and from school.

Do A Cost Analysis: If you have someone in mind you know and trust, experts note that qualified nannies and sitters are your best options in terms of flexibility and freedom, but are also among the most costly choices, ranging from about $12 to $17 per hour. After-school programs on the other hand can frequently offer parents a more affordable alternative with programs ranging from $6 to $8 per hour.

Navigating Your Options: What you need to know about finding the most affordable after-school programs.

· Call your public library. They generally offer homework and computer time, usually geared toward older students and kids….and it’s usually FREE. Keep in mind however, that there is no transportation (to the library) from school, there are also no snacks available, and when it gets busy, the librarian may not be able to help, or supervise your child.

· Check out your local college or university. Frequently offer a variety of activities including arts, crafts, music, cooking and tutoring. Services can range from free to having sliding-scale fees. These programs however may be sparse, limited, or restricted to certain age groups (such as elementary school children ONLY).

· Look in you local phone book in the “Parks and Recreation” section. Not only do kids get to socialize and “play” outdoors, keeping them fit, but, generally speaking these frequently government run programs are either low cost or FREE. It’s important to remember however, that based on enrollment quotients, these programs face the risk of being cancelled at the last minute.

· Contact you local senior citizen center. Many seniors, often retired, volunteer their time for hire and likely have ample experience (in raising kids). These programs are relatively inexpensive ranging between $5 to $7 or more per hour. Kids may prefer their own grandparents to strangers and some children may feel alienated from friends who may attend more “traditional” after-school programs.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Afternoon Delights: Delightful And Affordable After-School Options For Your Children

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