What is an After School Care Program? What Are Its Key Features And Advantages?
With a steady rise in working parents as well as nuclear family setups, the need for reliable after school programs cannot be overstated. As its name suggests, an after school program provides a safe space for the child after school hours. However, the benefits of effective after school care programs extend beyond just the physical safety of the child. In fact, after school programs also support the academic, cognitive, social, and emotional development of the child.
Let us look at the advantages of after school care programs in some detail:
First things first, with burgeoning crime rates, it is far from safe to leave the child unsupervised as you head out to work. Lack of reliable adult supervision especially in young children can lead to the possibility of a wide range of accidents. It is important therefore that the child is under reliable adult supervision & that the physical environment is safe. This is a need that professional runs, after school care programs, fulfill. With child-proof physical spaces as well as qualified staff, you can rest assured that the child is in good hands. Professionally run centers also take care of the nutritional needs of young children, offering parents complete peace of mind. Not only do they offer nutritious meals they also help the child develop a healthy relationship with food.
That it supports working parents, is, therefore, a given. Parents do not need to miss workdays or compromise their productivity on account of the fact that the child is unattended. In fact, not just parents, after school care programs are a huge support to businesses as well as they do not need to compromise on worker productivity on account of absenteeism.
Pro tip- Do look for the operational hours of the after care program to make sure that it matches your work schedule!
Social & Emotional Learning:-
An after school program not just offers a reliable physical space, but it also offers opportunities for the child’s social & emotional learning. Interaction with teachers and peers ensures that the child learns, among other things to manage emotions, show empathy for others, maintain supportive relationships, and more. It is these so-called “ soft skills” that go a long way in helping him thrive as he transitions into adulthood. Importantly the right program will foster self-worth in the child, which is a huge marker for success in all aspects of later life.
With an effective after school program you can also count on academic support. Not only can the qualified staff help the child do their homework but can also help with improving reading ability or math skills, for example. Attending after school programs, therefore, could among other things lead to improved academic grades, better class participation, and more.
Foster Multiple Intelligences:-
Research shows that 90% of the child’s brain develops by the time he is 5 years of age. It is imperative, therefore, that you make this time count. A big advantage that a good after-school program offer is that it is a great time for the child to follow different activities. What it in turn helps with, is fostering multiple intelligences. From sporting activities to art, music, and more, this is a great time for the child to be exposed to different activities.
Promote Healthy Habits:-
After-school programs also help the child learn healthy habits such as washing their hands before meals, sharing, ensuring there is no wastage of food, and more. These habits formed early to stay with the child throughout life. Importantly they also help the child become independent & to take on age-appropriate tasks.
While the benefits of an after-school program cannot be overstated, are all after school programs the same? Not quite. How then does one choose the right program?
Key features of an after school program to look for
It goes without saying that you need to look at the physical space to see if it is safe & age-appropriate. Childproof spaces that are well-organized, have enough and relevant facilities & equipment are all factors to look for.
Ensure that the after school program has qualified staff that takes care of the child’s all-around development. Checking for the adult-child ratio is another healthy indicator. That way you will know whether or not the child will get individual attention, which is extremely important in the formative years. Much like a good school, a good after school program will ensure the holistic development of the child.
Objectives of the after school program:-
Unless you are looking for just a safe physical place for the child to spend the additional hours, you will want to look at the objectives of the after school program. Look for the program description to see its objectives & purpose. Overall the objective of the program must be in line with your parenting philosophy. Simply put, the after school program has to act as a strong parenting partner for you and help the child develop to his or her full potential. The lineage of the founders, the management team, their credentials, and most importantly their philosophy towards child care are all areas that you should study before making the choice.
Look also for the activities it offers and whether those meet the interests of the child. If you are keen on getting homework support so that you can have some quality time with the child once you get back from work, then that is another thing to look for.
Last but not the least, look at the costs to see that they suit your budget. Additionally, check to see that there are no hidden costs that will come as a surprise to you at a later date.
At Footprints, we offer a robust after school program that allows the child to explore their interests & learn new skills. Additionally, the program offers homework support as well as well-curated activities that enhance the child’s language skills. The program is known for the individual attention the child gets, which enables him to rise to his fullest potential.
Here’s to raising conscientious children and allowing them to bloom!