5 After School Care Options for Tweens

When your tween isn't ready to be home alone

Sisters painting toenails in bedroom
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Young children absolutely require after school care, but tweens are a different story. Some tweens may be mature enough to be left home alone for a few hours after school; others made need after school care for a few more years until they're responsible enough to be left to their own devices. For many parents, the best decision is a little bit of both: a little independence, but not too much.

If think your tween should stay in after school care for a little while longer, start looking into your options.

Keep the following ideas in mind when searching for after school care for your tween. Before you commit to anything, be sure to discuss the options with your child.

1. Your Child's School

Does your child's school provide after school care? Many elementary and middle schools offer after school care either through the school itself or outsourced community organizations. These built-in options are great for parents with children and tweens who only need an hour or two of after school care. Many of these programs offer flexible scheduling, allowing daily and occasional care as needed. Do your homework. Make sure the program you choose is varied enough to keep your tween interested. If they aren't, they'll quickly grow bored and will no longer want to attend.

2. Local Community Centers & YMCAs

If your child's school doesn't offer after school care, the local community center or YMCA might. Students who participate in the these kinds of programs are generally bused from the school to the community center, making it super easy for parents.

Such programs typically offer tutoring services, physical activities, crafts, games and time for students to tackle homework assignments.

3. Volunteer Opportunities

If your tween only requires occasional after school child care, consider a volunteer program. You might be able to find a volunteer opportunity within your community that will foster citizenship skills and provide a safe environment every week for an hour or two.

Tweens can usually participate in volunteer opportunities at local museums, churches, libraries and in your child's school.

4. Talk to Friends & Neighbors

Tap into your social network. You probably have friends, neighbors and relatives that are willing and able to watch your child on occasion. Offer to coordinate an after school child care co-op, with each of you taking responsibility for a particular day or week. Even if you can't watch other children during the week, you might be able to help other members of the co-op by watching their children on the weekends.

5. Clubs, Service Groups, Sports & Other Activities

After school extra-curricular activities are such great ways for your tween to expand their horizons, make new friends, learn new skills and develop new hobbies and interests. They also provide you with much needed child care. Look for opportunities and activities within your child's school, youth sports organizations, the community parks and recreation department, and arts organizations.

Don't forget about service groups like the Girl Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America.

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