An after-school program either at the child’s school or from an independent source can help with childcare.
When your children are of school-going age it should make a big difference to child-care costs.
You may have previously paid for full-time care with a childminder or crèche
and now a big chunk of the day will be spent at school where they will be having tonnes of fun and learning at the same time.
For many families, childcare is still an issue though. If, for example, your child finishes school at 1.40pm but you work until 5 pm you will need a childcare option to cover those hours in between.
An after-school program either at the child’s school or from an independent source can help with this though.
There are many local childcare centres who have developed plans and programs to collect children from school and transport them to their premises until you pick them up in the evening time.
You might be wondering what exactly your children will be doing during these hours? Will they complete their homework and enjoy some food at the after school? Will they do extracurricular activities or spend any time outdoors?
Here is what we’ve found to be the case for a lot of centres.
We should probably start by saying that many of these “after-school” programs actually begin before school
. For working parents, it may be a necessity to drop the kids off somewhere an hour before the school day even begins.
Those who have the option of flexi-time or job sharing may find that a later start means a later finish and that can cause more childcare complications as it tends to fall later than the centre can cater for.
Every childcare organisation will have their own unique way of doing things. In some cases, the morning part of the procedure may involve a breakfast club. Children may have the option of a cold or warm breakfast and a little play before the school day actually begins.
This can take a huge amount of pressure off parents who have to leave at a particularly early hour. Knowing that breakfast is covered is a huge bonus. In some cases, the breakfast club happens on-site at the school and simply involves ushering the children to their appropriate classrooms or lines in the yard.
In private centres, it will involve a bus or car that transports the children to the local school in time for the regular start.
An after-school program is something that many children look forward to for a number of reasons. This time is looked upon as a fun time with their peers. A less formal experience. In the majority of cases, the after-school program will have designated homework time.
Your children will be encouraged and helped with homework tasks and this is another huge benefit for parents. It means that by the time you’ve picked them up in the evening you know that box is ticked. For the majority of parents, it is really difficult to do it all as you attempt to balance daily work and home life.
In the majority of after-school centres, the option for dinner will always be there. The centre will take information about your child’s preferences and any allergies and they will try to cater for all children to the best of their ability.
This is another benefit for working parents who might only have to worry about a quick snack for the kids in the evening time. If your after-school arrangement is for just an hour or two it may be an after-school snack rather than a meal.
Prices can really vary from place to place. Some private child-minders offer before and after school services but, in many cases, this is a private and unregulated agreement. In some cases, it involves more flexibility and smaller groups of children which appeals more to some parents.
In a crèche or as part of the school’s after-school program there may be some differences. One popular crèche we looked at charges €30 per week for just the breakfast club. That hour is spent having breakfast and some kind of morning activity before the school day begins.
That same crèche quotes a fee of €130 per week for children who avail of the morning and after-school program which can mean that for many parents childcare is still coming in somewhere between €500 and €700 per month for their school going child.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.