When you sign your child up for an after school program, you give them an opportunity to meet new friends, explore different passions, and have fun in a safe and organized environment. But, there are so many different types of after school programs available these days! How can you determine which after school program is right for your child?
At Sawyer, our goal is to connect educators and families so it is as easy as possible for children to participate in enriching activities, programs, and camps in their neighborhoods and online. In this guide, we will give you helpful advice so you can find the right after school program for your child. And remember: Your child might benefit from different types of activities, which is great, too!
- Benefits of after school programs
- Types of after school programs
- How to find the right after school program for your child
Benefits of after school programs
Before you dive into the research on after school programs for your child, it is important to understand the benefits of after school programs. What is their purpose and how do they help your child grow and develop?
- Safe and supervised spaces. After school programs provide safe and supervised spaces for children to learn, do homework, and have fun when the school day ends. This is especially helpful for parents and guardians who work and need childcare until the workday ends.
- Deep dives into new or interesting topics. When children have specific interests, they can participate in after school activities about those topics. They can spend more time learning about what they love or exploring a similar subject outside of school.
- Learning without grades. Children can just learn for the fun of learning in after school programs because they do not need to worry about grades or assessments.
- Homework help and academic support. Longer, enrichment-based after school programs often include time for homework, access to tutors or older students who can help, and even practice work that can increase your child’s academic performance.
- Increased social interaction and community. Children who participate in after school programs get to meet students from other schools or other grades that they wouldn’t have met otherwise. They can find mentors among older children or mentor younger students, make new friends, and increase their social skills.
- More opportunities to build confidence. Shier, quieter children might find themselves speaking up more in after school activities because there is less pressure than during the regular school day.
- Encouragement to try new things. Whether they are taking an individual after school activity about a topic they haven’t tried before (like dance, French, or STEM), or they are part of an after school enrichment program, children will be encouraged to step outside their comfort zones and try new things. Without worrying about grades or what their classmates might think of them, they can take the chance and try!
Types of after school programs
There are 2 main types of after school programs. Both are great options and your decision will depend on a number of factors such as your needs, your child’s interests, availability, and more.
After school enrichment programs
After school enrichment programs, which can also be called after care, generally run Monday through Friday from the end of the school day until the end of the workday (often 3pm to 6pm). They usually include time for homework, enrichment activities that span a variety of topics like dance, music, STEM, theater, and more, outdoor or open play, and free time. Sometimes, these programs are connected directly with the school and are done in the school building or provide pickup and/or drop off options for parents.
After school activities
After school activities are usually more specific. They usually occur 1-3 times per week and sometimes, parents can choose the number of classes their child attends. Oftentimes, parents sign their child up for an after school activity in a subject that they want them to advance in, something the child is interested in, or a sport. These types of after school activities can be semester-based or drop-in style. If you choose this type of after school program, you can sign your child up for multiple different activities so they get the ability to dive deeper into multiple topics.
How to find the right after school program for your child
Sawyer makes it easy for you to find after school programs for your child that will help them grow, learn, and have fun when the school day ends. When thinking about the right after school program for your child, consider their interests.
- Do they want to get better at basketball so they can make the team in the winter?
- Are they passionate about building with LEGO and want to explore more STEM topics outside of the classroom?
- Do they love to dance when music is playing and want to learn choreography?
The short answer is that the right after school program for your child is one that they will enjoy! Luckily for you, we have hundreds of educators on Sawyer who offer a wide range of after school programs for children of all ages.
Here is how you can use Sawyer to make finding the right after school program for your child as easy as possible.
Step 1: Decide on in-person or virtual programming
Are you looking for a virtual program or in-person? On Sawyer, you need to decide if you will be looking for activities in your area or online before you begin searching. If you are searching for virtual activities, go to the “online” option. If you are searching for in-person programs, choose “in-person”.
You don’t need to decide right away if you are looking for an after school enrichment program or after school activities because you can see them both when you search!
Step 2: Pick your filters
Using the filters, you can save time by only looking through activities that fit your child’s interests. These are the types of filters that you can utilize on Sawyer.
- Age: Save time by only seeing programs that are for your child’s age range.
- Booking type: If you know that you want an after school enrichment program, you can choose to just search for “semesters.” If you are interested in seeing both options, keep all of the filters so you can see everything that is offered.
- Category: This is where you can filter for the type of activity, like sports, music, STEM, drama, and more. If you are not sure what your child is interested in, don’t pick a filter and see everything!
- Month: Start with the month that your child’s school starts so you can find programs that run on the same schedule as the school year.
Step 3: Explore your options
Once you have added your filters, you will see the after school program options that fit your needs. Now, it’s the fun part! You get to explore all of the wonderful activities that our educators offer. When you review the options, we recommend looking at these important elements to make your decision.
- Dates and times: Does this after school program run during the right dates for your child’s school? When does it start and when does it end? Do the pickup and drop off times mesh with your work schedule? If not, does the program offer an extended day?
- Booking options: Some educators allow families to book after school enrichment programs in full, by week, or even by day (drop-in). These options provide flexibility for families who have other plans or want to try multiple after school programs and activities.
- Class experience: In this section, the educator will write about a typical day in the program and what you and your child can expect. Read this section closely to determine if your child will enjoy this experience and if the structure is right for them.
- Reviews: Have other families like yours enjoyed this program and/or this educator? What do others have to say about the experience? Reading reviews will help you make an informed decision.
Step 4: Make your decisions
After researching after school programs and (maybe) counting down the days until your child returns to school, you should be ready to register! If you book multiple after school activities for different days of the week, keep yourself organized in the calendar section of your Sawyer account.
Now, breathe a sigh of relief because your after school plans are booked and you can go back to having a fun summer with your family! Sawyer is here to make your life easier. If you are looking for summer camps, weekend activities, and more, check out what our educators are offering!