According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children need supervision through “middle childhood.” They recommend that:
- A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and watch over them after school until you return home from work.
- Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
- If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
- If you choose a commercial after-school program, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.
Personally, when Alex heads off to kindergarten, I plan on utilizing his school’s own after-hours program unless I hear terrible things about it, just for sheer convenience.