The end of summer doesn’t offer parents much time to transition. Once fall begins you jump headlong into a series of activities and social events surrounding your student. With so much going on, costs can add up before you even realize. If you’re looking for something other than chess, debate, or soccer to help fill your child’s after-school schedule, try these alternative and affordable activities.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to live on a farm for your son or daughter to join 4-H. Today their programs revolve around citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering and technology. Annual fees vary by program and there are extra costs for projects your child chooses to participate in.
Gymboree Play & Music
Gymboree is not only where you can get your kids some stylish clothes, they’ll also give your child something to do through their classes! They offer music, sports, art, school enrichment and family fun classes. Parent involvement depends on the age group and class. Give them a try by downloading a coupon for a free class and a discounted first month of membership. If you couldn’t resist a little online shopping, this offer from FreeShipping.org will help you save on shipping as well.
Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts
Girl Scouts are more than just awesome cookies. The organization also provides an environment for young girls to build character, self-esteem and serve their communities. The annual fee for this fun-loving program is a mere $12. The Boy Scouts instill similar values and their annual fee is only $15. Both Girl and Boy Scouts have additional costs for uniforms and activities, but they remain surprisingly low.
Don’t forget about your local library! Take advantage of free story times you can bring your child to. Some libraries may offer more free programs like a movie night with popcorn thrown in. You’ll encourage your child to have a love of reading at an early age.
Many churches across the United States put on a program called Awana during the school year. Awana usually meets once a week at the church for a couple hours where kids learn about the Bible, make new friends and have fun. Annual fees run anywhere from $35-45 per child, and there are programs for a wide range of ages.
Boys and Girls Clubs
The Boys and Girls Clubs of America provide educational, health, leadership, fitness and arts programs to youth across the United States. Clubhouses are typically open during the after-school hours, as well as all day long during summer and other school breaks. Membership costs vary by location, but some can be as little as $2 per year!
Local Recreation Programs
Your local parks and recreation department will offer activities for kids at reasonable prices throughout the year. For example, I can choose anything from farming, equestrian, swimming, cooking, dancing, and art classes for my youngsters. However, if your town has a high demand for parks and rec classes, be aware you may have to get in line to register or risk the waitlist.
Throw your hands up in the air…Y-M-C-A! Local YMCA’s around the country offer after-school care where your child will get some sort of physical activity or movement. Some centers also partner with schools so your child is getting additional education that corresponds with their curriculum. Costs vary by location, but expect to pay an initial registration fee around $40, plus an additional $50 per week.
Maisie Knowles is a working mother of two with three-year’s experience writing on parenting and partner issues. She co-founded Kinoli Inc. with her husband in 2005 and currently spends most of her time at home with her two young girls. For more information, visit MaisieKnowles.com.