Updated: May 18, 2020
This article is contributed by a member of our educator team.
With the brand new school year just merely days away, parents might wonder on what their little one should be doing after school, be it engaging in revision or enrichment classes.
After school care arrangements can be crucial in a child's life. For most children, this after school care period will be a good 4 hours from 2 to 6pm. These arrangements can refer to enrichment classes or practical revision of concepts covered in the classroom.
If you do not put a good caregiver and/or educator in place during these 4 hours, the damage can become horrendous. Here is one of a few examples which quite a number of families rely upon.
Relying On Elderly Grandparents
For many working parents who may not have adequate financial resources, it is quite common to rely on the grandparents to take care of the children. Grandparents are not considered a bad option in theory. In fact, grandparents provide unconditional love most of the time, and they often cook the most nutritious and best food for the family.
However, most grandparents are not the best educators or supervisors of young children in a modern education setting. In other words, they may only be able to provide physical care of children, but they are not going to be able to engage the kids academically for 3-4 hours on a daily basis. If children are unengaged for 4 hours daily, for 5 days a week and 40 weeks a year, you can imagine the amount of cumulative learning that your children might be missing out on.
Therefore, it is vital that we double the effort to secure the best after school care and education for our kids, and here are the reasons why:
Why is it Important to Have Good After School Care?
Consolidation of Day’s Learning
Our children spend about 6 hours in the morning every day in school learning various subjects. Wouldn’t you want them to be able to remember as much of what they have learnt as possible?
According to the Learning Pyramid developed in the 1960s by NTL Institute in Bethel, Maine, our brain can retain up to 90% of what we learn when we teach someone else, or use immediately what we have learnt.
Hence, it is vital that some of the after school time is spent revising some of the things that has been covered during school hours. This can only be done if an adult with the proper know-how is in charge of supervising the children during the after school hours.
Mastering Basic Learning Habits
Children at primary school age need as much habitual learning routines as possible, School teachers try to instil these. That is why there is spelling list to be learnt, dictation to be mastered and mental sums to be carried out.
If children’s learning habits are reinforced during the after school duration, this will greatly enhance the learning dispositions of children as they grow. Besides these school-based learning habits, it is also a good idea to instil some form of weekly-based organized learning structures into children’s lives. For instance, Mondays can be spent reading science books; Tuesdays could be spent in creative writing exercises or extended readings; Wednesdays could be spent doing more Mathematics assessment books and so on.
Parents can decide the structures and subjects, but during after school hours, someone with the proficiency and efficiency should be around to supervise these structures. You may not be able to depend on uneducated grandparents or helpers to do this job. Sad to say, some after school care centres also do not provide such supervision.
Strengthening Students in Other Areas
After school, time can also be spent on enrichment areas and other pursuits in a child’s life. These can be sports-based, aesthetics-based, technology-based programme or whatever pursuits are deem necessary for children’s holistic development. One of the keys to encourage creativity is engagement in a diverse range of activity areas.
According to Scientific American studies, “Diversity enhances creativity.” Subject areas that are seemingly unrelated can prove to be the final connecting dots to challenging problems. Remember how Steve Jobs’ self-imposed sojourn during his college years in calligraphy led to the best developed fonts for his first Apple Mackintosh computers? Today, we are still benefiting from the creative fonts that were developed this way.
Therefore, spending good time on areas that the school is not covering can be a developmental multiplier for students. At Gummy Cove, students' exposure in the 8 multiple intelligence domains throughout the week has also led to better all-round academic results and better critical and creative thinking skills.
Developing Social Skills
This will not happen so much if your child is being taken care of at home after school. Bonding with family members will certainly be stronger, but there will be less interaction with other schoolchildren.
Often, the children who mingle with one another at after school care centres are not from the same classes. This provides students with greater social mixing which can benefit them in the end.
However, the adult facilitation from the after school centre must also be competent in eliciting the positive and desirable social outcomes.
Staying Away from Screen Time
Finally, having proper after school supervision will keep our children away from the dreaded electronic screens of the modern generation. Our digital natives today are addicted to the screen and keeping them away as much as possible will definitely help in their holistic development.
Once again, this can only happen if there are good supervision and good programmes as substitutes. Children left on their own or to the care of grandparents and helpers will just mean a good part of the afternoon will be spent on the screen, as our children can be big bullies of their grandparents and helpers. Limiting screen time is therefore one of the key strategies to facilitate a better and conducive environment for children to learn together with their peers.
After school care is going to be increasingly crucial as we gear towards a duo-parent working economy in Singapore. Under such circumstances, leaving our children to the ill-equipped grandparents, domestic helpers or poor after school care centres staff can be very detrimental to their development.
Four hours per day, five days a week for forty weeks means 800 hours of potential learning and enrichment time for the whole year. If properly harnessed, these 800 hours can develop our children exponentially.
Children will be able to consolidate and remember their learning better, build stronger learning habits, indulge in more diverse enrichment areas, form better social skills and spend less time on the screen.
Given the benefits, we can all agree on the importance of good after school care or supervision for our children. If you have not established this, fret not. Perhaps it is a good indication to look for an after school care centre that you can trust and rely on throughout your child's education journey.