We know that you have many options when choosing after-school activities for your children. But we are here to help you weigh the pros and cons of after-school school run programs versus private programs.
Pros of After-School School Run Programs
Location, Location, Location
For many parents, one of the highest ranking pros for school-run after school programs and activities is the fact that they are at school and require no additional transportation. We are right there with you celebrating the joy of NOT adding an additional stop to the already busy end of the day routine.
For kids, this can also be a good thing, especially if your child is a bit nervous about joining a new group or program. Having the program located in the already-familiar school location takes some of the anxiety away from starting a new routine.
Another plus of school-based activities is that your child will likely already know some of the children participating in the group or activity. Again, this helps with kids that might be shy or apprehensive about joining.
Additionally, if your child knows other children in the program, it means you might already know some of the other children’s parents. If you already have relationships with some of the other parents, it can make parental involvement more enjoyable, plus you may already have some built-in backups if you need someone to help out with after-program pickup or special events.
Especially if your children attend public school, we find the cost of school-based programs are very reasonable in order that the activity might be available to all students; many programs even have scholarships or sliding-scale fees based on parental income. These programs also tend to have less or lower extra fees, such as uniforms or costumes.
Pros of After-School Privately Run Programs
Because private groups do not have to cater to only a specific group of children like school-based groups do, they can offer a much wider variety of activities. For instance, a local school may not be able to fully support an aikido or fine arts after-school group, a private club that can draw members from across an entire community or region can.
This variety offered by private programs is great for expanding your child’s interests or helping them to increase to more advanced-level skills through smaller groups and more one-on-one assistance. For kids who are advanced or looking to become advanced in any area, oftentimes private groups are the way to go.
Private groups are more likely to have members from different schools and potentially different backgrounds. Therefore, private groups are often a great place for children to expand their friend groups and get broaden their base of friends to outside the school walls.
Likewise, being involved in a private group can also expose parents to new relationships with parents who may have children with similar interests to your own. It is a great way for the adults to build new friendships as well, which is always a good thing.
Many private programs or groups are founded or taught by experts in their field. For example, many dance studios and gymnastic academies are run by former professional dancers and elite gymnasts.
Because you often encounter experienced leaders in these groups, it is a great choice if you are looking for a way for your children to expand their skills to a higher level. Also, experts in the field tend to exhibit a true passion for their craft that tends to be a bit “contagious.”
Cons of After-School School Run Programs
School-based programs often have to cater to students new to the activity, and many such programs are built for students who have little or new experience with the activity in question. This can be one of the prime challenges of after school groups.
While this can be a great jumping off point for a student, if your student is a quick learner or is already more advanced in a certain activity, they can quickly reach the limits of what they can learn in the class. It is difficult for school-based programs to offer the one-on-one attention that is needed to reach true mastery in an activity.
Because school-programs tend to operate on a more-limited budget and serve a specific group of students, it may be difficult to find a wide variety of programs with a school-based program. Many times the programs offered are simply those that are popular with most children.
While this can be great, if your student has an interest in a not-so-ordinary activity or you want them to engage is some truly diverse activities, a school-based program may not fit the bill.
Cons of After-School Privately Run Programs
Many times, the most prohibitive thing about privately run programs is the cost. Some private activities when pursued at an advance level, such as dance and gymnastics, can come with costs that range from several hundred up to thousands of dollars each month.
While many of these types of programs offer top-notch services, teaching or coaching, the high cost can be prohibitive to many.
Travel and Time
While school-based programs tend to be located at the school immediately following class, private programs may require travel for lessons or daily activities, as well as extensive travel for competitions or performances. For some families, fitting in travel and activity time into already busy schedules makes it difficult to take on private programs.
Additionally, private programs, especially at advanced levels, tend to require a higher number of hours of involvement. It is not uncommon for competitive private sports programs to have daily practices in addition to a number of meets or games each week.
School-based and private after-school programs both have a lot to offer you and your children. School-based programs convenience and affordability may introduce your child to a new activity and private programs may help your child to gain advanced skills.
No matter which you choose, or whether you choose to do both, we recommend encouraging your children to get involved and stay involved. Many times, children gain skills and friendships in these programs that will last them a lifetime.