Before- and after-school programs have long been the answer for parents in need of a space where their children can safely spend mornings and afternoons. And despite the countless studies proving the wealth of benefits for kids, misconceptions about these programs still persist.
In the spirit of back-to-school season, we’re breaking down some common misconceptions about before- and after-school care so that you can make an informed decision regarding how your child will start and end their days this school year:
Myth: Older children will be bored
Fact: Before- and after-school programs have plenty to offer older school-aged children—particularly those where kids have a direct say in how they spend their day. Allowing children to be involved in the planning of fun, age-appropriate activities captures their attention and keeps them interested in programming. Offering children opportunities to freely and confidently make choices also encourages independence, gives them a sense of autonomy, and promotes the development of life skills like problem-solving.
Myth: Kids just “hang out” with friends
Fact: Before-and after-school programs are more than a “hang out” spots for kids. They’re a community where children can find a place of belonging. Within these communities, kids can develop crucial social skills (like teamwork, patience, and assertiveness) from the strong bonds that they form with both peers and child care educators.
In addition, these programs present a great opportunity for children to engage and connect with peers of different ages. It can be a challenge for older children to find common ground with younger ones, but a solid before- and after-school program will encourage them to act as positive role models. As they interact with their peers, educators use these moments to guide them on being empathetic, responsible, and a leader—which are essential skills for a strong role model to possess.
Myth: Unhealthy, calorie-dense foods remain on the menu
Fact: Before- and after-school programs play a pivotal role in providing children with access to nutritious foods. Many have designed snack menus that offer nutrient-rich eats (such as fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, and healthy grains) to ensure kids have a healthy start to their day as well as a much-needed afternoon pick-me-up. A supply of wholesome food on hand to munch on will also help kids learn about proper nutrition and develop lifelong healthy eating habits.
Myth: School’s out, playtime is in
Fact: Despite the emphasis on fun and absence of worksheets and tests, before- and after-school programs are valuable resources for supporting and extending children’s learning. Research shows that the many indoor and outdoor activities kids enjoy while attending these programs are likely to improve their success in the classroom. The combination of unique educational experiences that are tailored to children’s interests and learning styles engages kids and makes learning meaningful to them.
YMCA Before and After School Care provides children aged 4 to 12 with a safe and fun way to begin and end their school day. Programs focus on children engaging in inquiry-based activities that support classroom learning and encourage healthy childhood development. With over 180 licensed locations, a YMCA Before and After School Care can be found in your neighbourhood. Inquire today about program spaces at your local Y!