Many Boston-area schools run a wonderful after-school child care program called Extended Day. Information about the Baker School program, for example, can be found here. It is important to note that this is not an academic program like after school institutes (such as the hagwon in Korea). Originally begun when working mothers led to latchkey kids who were left at home alone after school, this program gives your child an opportunity to play with other children under adult supervision if you are not able to be home.
In past years, we have had students attend this program to get more exposure to English. Sometimes parents want their child to speak only in English during this time, in order to learn the language. However, many children will want to play with others who speak their native language. If your child attends a school with many other students from the same country, this is a good opportunity for them to relax and enjoy their first language. Because this is a social – not academic – time, that comfort of speaking in the language they choose is nice, especially after a long day struggling to listen to and speak in English at school. It has been difficult for some of our students who want to follow their parents wishes that they speak English when they see their friends speaking in their home language.
Our students have compared Extended Day to recess, an enjoyable time for them to relax and play games (we grown-ups know that these “games” are also teaching them lessons in art, science and more!). Parents can be confident that this play happens in a structured and supervised environment. There is a quiet period for doing homework – we recommend making sure your child feels comfortable asking the supervisors for help with any questions, because at the end of a long school day, some children may feel more shy and will not speak up.
Your school’s Extended Day Program can provide after-school care for your child if you have to work, but it is also a supportive environment for them to socialize in English and speak in their native language.