Gone are the days when kids came home from school to play unsupervised until mom called "dinner." Moms' lives are busy, and so are kids'. Setting up a schedule for your children that enriches their lives and doesn't stress them (and you) out is quite a balancing act.

For today's kids, after-school activities are numerous and diverse. They can range from school-sanctioned after-school programs to after-school time spent together as a family. In other words -- after-school time can be formal and organized, or it can be simple fun family time.

The main reason to create an after-school schedule is to help your child know what to expect, to be sure he or she isn't overwhelmed by too many activities, and to enrich his or her experiences. Just a few examples of after-school activities include:

  • Academic support
  • Sports (soccer, football, Little League)
  • Music, theater, dance, or art
  • Playtime
  • Volunteer work
  • Church groups
  • Homework or tutoring programs
  • College or job prep (for older kids)

Any parent will tell you that the biggest problem to overcome with after-school programs is scheduling everything efficiently. Making a schedule and sticking to it is key.

On the next few pages, we'll talk about the various after-school programs and activities that may be available for your child, as well as tips for organizing.