We’re definitely going to need before and after care for our children this school year (2016-2017). We’ve started looking into what the standard options are, and we’re a little worried. As teachers my wife and I have seen what before and after care can be (a waste of children’s time, with some fun mixed in) and hope to find something better.
One possibility is a martial arts program at one of a few locations around the county. The deal is that for about $450 dollars/month, they pick your child up after school and they can do homework and take classes. That sounds good on the surface, but we’re going to check it out. The choices I know of are:
- Wilde Lake Karate After Care $450/month
- World Champion Martial Arts Laurel, Md
- Hwarang Martial Arts $89/week after school only – Serves schools near 21045 zip code.
- Nam’s Kicks Ellicott City, serves Illchester, Waterloo, Phelps Luck, Bonnie Branch, and Thunder Hill Elementary.
In-School Before and After Care
The public schools in Howard County all have on-site before and after care. It looks like some of the programs are run by Howard County Parks and Recreation, and some are primarily run by the Columbia Association. This means you won’t have a choice. At our local elementary for example, before and after care is run by Columbia Association. It turns out, however, that there are “special programs” that are added on by the Howard County Parks and Rec. For example, they have a 12-session before school chess club running this fall.
Checking out the Recreation and Parks after care page, it definitely looks as if they have some good programs, but one day recently, we heard some parents complaining about this program one day while my girls were taking a ballet lesson–exactly what I am afraid of, basically frequent disorganization, and more of a babysitting service than anything else. I hope that’s not what I will find.
The following elementary schools have before and after care provided by Recreation and Parks:
- Bellows Spring Elem
- Bollman Bridge Elem
- Bushy Park Elem
- Dayton Oaks Elem
- Deep Run Elem
- Ducketts Lane Elem
- Elkridge Elem
- Forest Ridge Elem
- Fulton Elem
- Gorman Crossing Elem
- Hollifield Station Elem
- Ilchester Elem
- Laurel Woods Elem
- Lisbon Elem
- Manor Woods Elem
- Pointers Run Elem
- Rockburn Elem
- St. John’s Lane Elem
- Triadelphia Ridge Elem
- Veterans Elem
- Waverly Elem
- West Friendship Elem
As mentioned many of the local schools have programs offered by Columbia Association. There is an application on the website. You may find that your school has a waiting list for the before and after care. You can call them on 410-715-3000 to check on the waiting list. The following elementary schools have Columbia Association before and after care:
The Recreation and Parks programs are convenient, but certainly aren’t what I’d call cheap-basically you’re going to pay $200/month for before care, and $300 for aftercare or both for $446/month (These are 2016 prices, subject to change! Financial aid is available) for before and aftercare (from 7am until school starts and then from after school until 6pm).
So for that kind of money, and for spending so much of your child’s time, you can only hope for well-run, worthwhile offerings. The website states that the ratio of students to staff in this program are no more than 15 to 1. Also, worth mentioning is that they provide snacks (I hope they’re healthy snacks!) and have optional full-day care on many of the days when school is closed due to pre-scheduled holidays.
As mentioned earlier, some of the elementary schools also have special add-on aftercare programs that are available through parks and recreation from local businesses. (ie-Chess, music lessons, yoga, sports, Girls on the Run, scouting–see my post about after school activities in Howard County!) You have to check with your school or browse through the online catalog to see what’s available and the additional costs.
Does anyone have any suggestions? What have you found about before and after care at schools in Howard county? Also, check out this post if you’re looking for other worth-while activities to do with your kids in central Maryland and if you’re looking for gift ideas for your child, see my post about birthday and holiday gift ideas for smart kids. (Also see my birthday party ideas for kids in Howard County)