In communities across the United States, 11.3 million children are without supervision between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. That means 1 in 5 children still do not have someone to care for them after school.
If you are a working parent and need after school care my first suggestions is to always put children in an after school program that is engaging. With the increase in quality programming you can find some very specific enrichment activities for your children including snack and physical activity keeping their brains active.
If you’re lucky enough to be at home when your kids arrive there around 2:30 then you know creating meaningful after school hours is equally as essential. There’s well over about six hours that you have to create a daily experience for your children. Educators strive for six hours of instructional time during the school day. Now here is the ball in your court as a parent. What are you going to do with it?
In my previous post about setting your children up for success I shared some great ideas for setting up home headquarters. If you missed that one check it out here: How to Set Your Kids Up For Back to School Success. We have to be more intentional if we want to see exceptional results from our children both personally and academically.
So realistically here’s how I would view an intentional afternoon for an elementary school aged child.
2:30-3:00 Afterschool Snack/Change Clothes/Rest
3:30-4:00 Enrichment (Academic)
4:00-4:30 Enrichment (Personal)
4:30-5:30 Outdoor Time
6:30-7:00 Free Time
7:00-7:30 Bath Time
7:30-8:00 Quiet Reading
8:00-8:30 Lights Out
Every child needs a minute to ease into their home life after a long day at school. My children have to change clothes and put them in the washer because quite frankly I don’t want the germs from school and the playground in the house (been there had that sickness don’t want it again). They have a snack and just get a few moments to mentally prepare to be home.
If they have an activity outside of the home that afternoon (dance, basketball, cub or girl scouts, etc) I remind the what time we need to be there and what they need to lay out ahead of time.
We jump right into homework time because if they’re struggling I can provide better support before the end of the night.
The enrichment hour they have in comprised on using online resources, workbooks, text, and activity books to provide additional study hours and hands on learning at home. I love to confirm for myself if my kids are on certain reading levels or if they really do grasp the concepts of things. I need better insight into their focus levels, time it takes to complete assignments, etc.
The second portion of that is life skills. The girls like to cook, bake, craft, draw, read magazines, and the boys like to build and create, draw, etc. so I like to provide opportunities for that including them reading and studying their Bibles. That’s major for me because so much of our foundation exists around that.
Then we eat, handle our household responsibilities, play outdoors and get fresh air, and I do give them time to do what they want as well. I am interested in creating a good balance of parent led and children led activities and helping them to not just dwindle time away.
Of course we don’t stick to this schedule down to the minute and some days require flexibility because things come up but the children need direction and guidance to establish good habits.
Make sure as you’re thinking over what works best for your family that you extend yourself the same flexibility and grace needed because it’s going to take time to establish a routine and life happens.
If you are a low income family or just don’t have it in the budget to enroll in classes after-school hit YouTube! Do singing exercises, kids yoga, drawing tutorials, cooking tutorial, etc. You can still find great ways to connect with your kids and stay on budget. I’ve been there and done that as well and honestly they don’t care as long as they are having fun.
Whatever you do don’t let the kids come in and sit in front of screens until it’s time to go to bed. Remember you’ll be talking about your childhood for the rest of your life. Give your kids something amazing to remember.