As your child makes the transition to Big Kid Land (aka elementary school) this September, there’s a lot to think about. Sure, there are some pluses — not having to pay for daycare, for one — but there are plenty of logistics to work out, such as after-school care since NYC public schools end at 2:40 pm. Wouldn’t it be nice if our workdays also ended at that time?!?
Choosing the right after-school care for your child depends on a variety of factors: your children’s schedule, their activity preferences, location, and pickup/dropoff. And don’t forget your own needs and schedule. The last thing you want to do is rush to make pickup time! Here are the most popular options for working parents.
1. In-school programs
What could be better than having your child simply stay at school — all while getting to socialize with friends and do fun activities? Kids can get homework help, as well as choose from activities such as soccer, track, flag football, yoga, hip-hop for the athletes, MIT Scratch, STEM activities, Lego Robotics for the tech/scientists, theater, magic, story writing, and YouTube DIY for the artists. Most programs allow you to choose two, three, or five days of care per week, and fees vary by location.
2. Local programs
If your school doesn’t offer after-school care or have a program that interests your child, don’t despair. Fortunately, there are plenty of afterschool programs that provide just the forum — all while supervising your child and providing time for him or her to socialize while you’re finishing up the workday. Many of them will even pick up your child from school!
Here are a few popular NYC programs for kids:
– 92nd Street Y After-School Program (Upper East Side)
– Bronx House (Bronx)
– YMCA (five boroughs)
– Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan (Upper West Side)
– JCC Windsor Terrace
– JCC North Williamsburg
– JCC Staten Island
– Brooklyn Arts Exchange (Brooklyn)
– Brooklyn Strategist (Brooklyn)
– The Tiny Scientist (Brooklyn)
– Brooklyn Game Academy (Park Slope and Tribeca)
– Chelsea Piers: CP-After-3 (Chelsea)
– Children’s Museum of the Arts (Lower Manhattan)
3. Private after-school care
An after-school sitter — whether someone you hire or a trusted relative or friend — can best accommodate your schedule and your kids’ specific needs. (As with the local programs above, you’ll need to pick up your kids at the program’s end time, so no running late!)
Along with offering more time flexibility, a sitter can take your child to other activities, make dinner, help with homework, and more. Plus, your sitter is solely focused on the specific needs of your child.
One downside to this option is that you’re not exposing your child to peers. However, if you pair it with other after-school group activities like swim class or even arranged playdates, you’ll get the best of both worlds: socialization and a dedicated caregiver accommodating your specific needs and schedule.
Here are some great groups activities to consider where having a sitter comes in handy:
– Music lessons at home or at Lucy Moses
– Occupational therapy, such those offered at Mighty Minds and Muscle
– Swim classes at the YMCA or Asphalt Green
– Enrichment programs and courses, such as Kumon classes
– Martial Arts classes, such as Champions Martial Arts
– Theater and Drama lessons, such as Applause New York
– Rockclimbing classes, such as The Cliffs
How do you find a trusted sitter? Start with platforms like Apiari where you’re matched to a curated list of experienced care providers. You can also network with other parents in-person or via local Facebook parenting groups and community parenting boards.
We’ll leave you with this thought: New York City public schools have 29 days off for federal holidays, and that’s before half days and 67 days of summer vacation. Your schedule is hectic, and it’s unlikely that it aligns perfectly with your child’s. The right after-school care — from in-school yoga to a quality babysitter — can make all the difference in your child’s life…and your own.
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