There are many children who come home to empty houses after school. They are being called ‘latch key’ children. Parents often experience the difficult dilemma of trying to find an afterschool program for their child. As more parents work outside of their homes there is a need for a safe and appropriate place for school age children. Quality family childcare can supplement and continue what the child’s school offers by providing different types of life and learning experiences.

Family childcare can be especially helpful in supplementing the following school limitations:

• Schools are generally available for only part of the day and the year.

• Schools most commonly provide formal settings for learning where the children are expected to conform to the needs of the class.

• As children get older, less emphasis is placed on relationships in which a child can feel emotionally close to an adult and communicate about personal issues.

Family childcare program can have many advantages for children. They can provide:

• Family childcare can also provide a valuable supplement to a school age child’s opportunities for development.

• Many family childcare programs are open before and after school, on weekends and during vacations.

• In family childcare, providers are able to respond to a child’s individual needs.

• In comparison to school, the schedule of activities in a family childcare is usually more flexible and there is less pressure to acquire specific skills on schedule.

• In family childcare, children are able to form meaningful relations with an adult who might remain available to them for several years.

• Family childcare programs can bring children and providers together in activities that are fun and generally improve the quality of a child’s learning experience.

• Diverse age groups in a program’s enrollment allows for siblings to stay together

• Parents and providers can develop a relationship through continuity of care

• Children with handicaps can often be integrated without much difficulty

• Children can choose to work together as a group or find a place for peace and quiet

A family childcare program can be a place where school age children can check-in, eat, spend some time discussing the days’ events, then participate in activities, study or do homework. A family childcare home can be a safe place where your child is known, and a place where your child can find warmth and friendship.

Due to the age and specific needs of school age children, the organization of the childcare for this age group is much more diversified and flexible than for younger children. After all you have entrusted your child’s care to a childcare professional. Your childcare provider, in turn, accepted the responsibility for your child and for your child’s developmental needs and incorporated them in their daily schedule.

If your child is having a hard time with separating from you and going to school. A family childcare home can help your child. When your child comes to childcare before school, the provider is able to give the child more personal attention than they can get at school. The before school time at the childcare program can be a time for your child to be given comfort and security. This helps him/her to separate from you by transitioning to a familiar and secure family childcare environment before starting the school day.

Your school age child needs to ‘work’ just as much as infants need to cuddle. Good family childcare can provide many opportunities for different types of ‘work’. For most school age children, a major area of their work is schoolwork. Childcare can provide other kinds of ‘work’ which are not done in traditional schools.

For example: Hobbies, crafts, games, building, collecting and inventing.

Since family childcare is concerned with each child’s needs and abilities the ‘work’ must be chosen on an individual basis. Unlike at school, the end product should be less important than the child’s sense of accomplishment. In family childcare your provider will celebrate your child’s accomplishments. When your child feels a sense of accomplishment in childcare, it will help him/her develop self-esteem that will carry over into their school experience.