Many parents need care for their children after the school bell has rung and the books have been put away. The question is: Which program is the best fit? When contemplating options, parents may want to consider an afterschool enrichment program.
The Benefits of Afterschool Enrichment
Afterschool enrichment programs offer many benefits, including keeping kids safe after school, inspiring kids to learn new skills, providing academic support and a creative outlet, and allowing time to socialize with peers — just to name a few.
“One of the benefits of enrolling your child in an afterschool enrichment program is that [your child has the opportunity to] make new, like-minded friends they may not share the same class or school with,” says Kristin Bailey, program director for Decoy Art Center in Beavercreek. Bailey also says that some other benefits include boosting kids’ confidence and self-esteem, allowing kids to learn leadership skills, and giving them an outlet where they can try new things and be creative.
When children participate in afterschool enrichment programs, they are able to spend time focusing on their personal interests and further develop specific skill sets they might not otherwise learn in a regular classroom. These subjects might be STEM activities, gymnastics, swimming, theater, computer programming, creative movement, music and more.
Choosing a Program
With such a wide variety of options available for afterschool care, the idea of choosing a program may seem overwhelming.
“When looking for a quality afterschool program for their child, parents should consider meeting or talking to the teacher, organizer or director prior to registration to learn more about what the program would consist of,” Bailey says. “This will help parents to get an idea whether their child would benefit from it, enjoy it and be comfortable, as well.”
What if you have searched your neighborhood for a program and are not able to find what you are looking for in your community? In that case, Bailey suggests that parents search for enrichment programs that meet once or twice a week instead of daily.
“If a group of your child’s friends are interested, consider a carpool,” Bailey says. “Your child will still be in a fulfilling and enjoyable program where they’ll get to have new experiences and make friends.”
Some parents may love the idea of an enrichment program, but are concerned about the convenience and cost. Oftentimes, programs will offer some form of financial assistance, or possibly even scholarships. When enrolling, check to see if your child is eligible for any of these benefits. Also, some programs offer discounts for families with multiple children attending.
Another thing Bailey notes is that, when registering for an afterschool enrichment program, “look at the age minimums and maximums,” she says. “Many programs have age limits to insure the safety of students, as well as to be sure they are offering age appropriate activities.”
With all of these things to consider, finding an afterschool enrichment program may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Include your child in the process and have fun looking into the different options that are available. Dayton, and the surrounding areas, have plenty of quality programs that cover a broad spectrum of physical, artistic and educational interests. Once you find a program that is right for your family, you can relish in the fact that your child will be safe, have fun, make friends and develop skills that will last a lifetime.
Questions to Consider When Searching for a Program
* Will your child be happy, nurtured and feel comfortable in the program?
* How is discipline handled?
* What is the training process of the instructors running the program?
* What are the criteria to be hired by the organization?
* Is my child interested in this topic/activity? Or is this something they should try on a smaller scale before committing to a long-term program?
* What do families, friends and neighbors recommend?
* If the organization you are interested in isn’t located nearby, are there other branches of that organization that are close to your community?
* Do they offer multi-age programming so that multiple children from a family can be involved on the same evenings?
* Does my child need to bring their own supplies?
* Do the activities change each session?
* What is the policy if my child has to miss a day?