Sitting in front of a TV or computer playing video games might be a way for your kid to kill some time. And although there's nothing wrong with those activities, they should be done in moderation. Here are a few ideas for more active -- both physically and mentally -- after-school fun:
If your child's school doesn't offer an after-school program (sometimes called aftercare), look around the community. Sometimes your local YMCA or church/synagogue will have good programs where kids are supervised and play games or receive help with their homework. And there are always the old standards -- music lessons, sports or dance classes.
Or, if you're able to be with your child after school, you can spend productive time together by planning out activities. Here's one idea to get you started: Each month of the year has a theme, and you can celebrate it in different ways. For example, the month of December has a lot of multicultural holidays. You and your child can learn about these holidays together, make recipes that tie into the festivities, and play themed games.
Also think about pooling your resources with neighbors of similarly aged children. Plan play dates, or take turns watching the kids after school. Whatever you choose, don't forget to incorporate some physical activity as well. Weather permitting, you can take bike rides or nature walks, or just run around outside to blow off some steam. During the colder, indoor months, you can keep your kids (and yourself) moving with active video games or even an impromptu dance party.
Next, we'll talk about how to get the most out of those after-school hours.