Author Topic: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation  (Read 1736 times)

firelight

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Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« on: May 28, 2017, 01:18:01 AM »
My oldest would be starting kindergarten in two years. We know the school district and preferably the school she'd go to. Since we didn't go to school in US, I'm very confused about the schedule and how we should prepare for it. I see the school is from 8.30 am to 2.15 pm on some days and 8.30 am to 12 pm on others. They also have so many days off. They have after care programs in school. Currently both my husband and I work full time and kids go to daycare. We are seriously considering one of us should go part time or work remotely from home so we can deal with school schedules and weird timings. But I'm also wondering if the after school programs are good enough that we should rather let her go there and we continue working full time. But my husband feels it's too much school for a kid and that she'll be sad if half her classmates go home and she stays in school.

1) how do families where both parents work deal with erratic school timings?
2) is after school care really good? Some say they do enrichment activities but how useful are such activities? Some say they'll make kids finish homework. While tempting, I'm wondering if I should work with my kid on homework so I know what's going on and her progress. But I also fear I might not be consistent due to work schedule and tiredness.
3) is remote work/part time a good option to handle public school timings? How should I value it vs full time job (eg: min 60% of full time for it to be cost effective)

Also, was there anything you did (or wish you had done to prepare) or didn't do that would've made the kindergarten transition easier and more cost effective for the entire family? And why are school timings and schedules so not-friendly to working parents? Am I missing something?

PS: we'll have another kid that would be going to full time daycare when my oldest starts kindergarten.

milliemchi

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2017, 08:42:57 PM »

1) It's a very difficult situation. Some use part time nannies, some scrape together hours of babysitting coverage that varies by day/week. Some have flexible hours or non-traditional schedules. Some have grandparents. Some partner with stay-at-home moms.

2) This will vary greatly. Worst case scenario is your kid will do nothing but play. Enrichment programs that I've seen have generally varied between OK and good, and were a good value because they were usually subsidized. If they make your kid finish their homework, by all means, pay them to get that done. I also did not go to school in the US, and doing homework with my daughter was invaluable for learning how the system works, what is being taught and how, etc. This will make doing homework with my son much easier because I understand the system. OTOH, I pulled my hair out on a regular basis from being frustrated at how slowly my daughter worked. Somebody else would have been more understanding and much better for her. However, she went through an accelerated program, not an average American school, so you may be more lucky.  Keep in mind that if you work full time, you will only have a couple of hours with your kid in the afternoon, and there are better uses of that time than homework. Also, if they have trouble with homework, it's better if they have already done some before they come home.

3) Remote/part time is always a good option. After school care is usually a good value. Flexibility is priceless. The innumerable days off will be difficult to cover otherwise.

The timings are not friendly because the schools did not get the memo that there are now families where both people work. That's the only explanation. I don't know what hourly workers do. Perhaps one parent does not work, and does not look for work, and that's how the unemployment rates are artificially kept down.

We actually don't have it that bad because the schools is out at 2:45p, and the bus does not come back to us until 3:45p. That's an extra hour of 'coverage' that we get. My husband works weekends/nights, and when I have to pick up the kids, I can leave at 3:30 (flexible hours). If my husband worked regular hours, we would have to figure out some less desirable schemes.  Most likely, we would be paying for after-school care. That could be hard on the kid on some days, but I would not quit a well-paying, career-oriented job to spare the kid afterschool care. Kids have dealt with worse.

kimmarg

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2017, 07:02:35 AM »
Yep, school schedules are weird! The good news is you are far from the only person who would need care for these odd times. While my child isn't in school yet I can tell you that there are tons of programs for before/after school care and they almost all adjust for the early release days and vacation days (e.g. 'after school' starts at 12pm on the days they end then, 2:15pm other wise)  I also know amongst my coworkers vacation week 'camps' are popular as is taking the week off.

Is after school programs 'good'? Varies widely - do your research and decide what you mean by 'good'.  If the kids are in daycare roughly 9-5 now I don't see how school 8:30-2:15 and after care 2:15-5pm is much different.

Flexible jobs are always great when you have kids, but let's be realistic if they get home at 2:30 you're not going to be working from home from 2:30-5pm you'll be dealing with them and making up that time after bedtime from 7pm-9:30pm If that's a choice you want to make, go for it.


iowajes

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2017, 07:37:17 AM »
Is your daycare near the school? Many daycares offer pick up services for schools as well.  So your child would be in a familiar daycare setting instead of after school care.

Around here the before/after care offered by schools is lightly supervised play. Kids can choose to do their homework, but mostly it is just kids running wild, with someone making sure they don't kill each other.

Milizard

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2017, 02:05:36 PM »
My son goes to the after school program called latchkey, and he loves it.  They will help them get their homework done and sometimes they have organised crafts or games, but mostly it's unorganized play in the gym or out on the playground.  Sometimes they're in the computer lab, and have a movie playing for the kids who don't want to surf the web.  My son is in 1st grade, and I have him in there for the minimum hours I have to pay/week, which is 5.   It seems to be a bit too much for the younger kids to handle well.  He was in the program last year as well, and I was even more concerned about it then.   It's just a lot of kids from K to 5th grade thrown together with pretty loose supervision.  I would much prefer a home based care option that did pickups, but you take what you can get.  Again, he loves it, and I'm sure it will be better for him as he gets older.

As far as why schools do these crazy schedules--because they can get away with it.  There's an attitude out there that working parents are merely looking for free daycare from schools, so put up or shut up.  I don't agree with that, but that's what people think.

Laura33

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2017, 10:18:34 AM »
ARGH the school schedules!! 

First, don't decide anything based on K -- many schools start that with shorter days to get the kids adjusted.  Look at the regular schedules for grades 1-5. 

But, yes, you are going to have shorter days and really annoying half-days and in-service days.  For this:  before- and after-care can be awesome.  We have a YMCA program that takes the kids to/from school in a little bus, and a church-based program next door that walks the kids over and back.  We chose the latter, even though it isn't our church, and it has been *awesome*.  Primary benefits:

1.  They are open on all of the half-days and holidays and any weather delay as long as the teachers can get there.

2.  They have an *awesome* outdoor playground and send the kids out to run around before and after school.  Because our schools have shortened recess quite a bit since I was in school, this was a big, big deal for me.  [I don't personally give much of a shit about "enrichment" -- in ES, my kids needed less butt-in-seat time and more running-around time]

3.  They have an optional homework period -- they send around a note at the beginning of the year asking whether you want them to "encourage" your kid to sit and do homework.  I always opted in, because it built the habit of getting the work done, and it freed up our evenings at home for relaxation and fun. 

4.  My kids made great friends with other kids whose parents had similar schedules to us.  I have several friends there who now have been known to pick up my kid or vice-versa on a given day. 

5.  Many, many kids in the neighborhood have two working parents.  As a result, the after-care is now the modern version of the "play with kids in the neighborhood after school."  If my kids were home, they would have no one to play with.

6.  My kids think this is totally normal.  I realize that for others this may be a bug, not a feature.  But kids are adaptable; they tend to do whatever you present to them as "normal," because they don't have any other frame of reference.  As a result, my kids both had an awesome time in daycare and then in before- and after-care; in fact, my son gets annoyed when I pick him up too early, because, per 5, that's where his friends are! 

As always, YMMV -- depends on your kids, your neighborhood, your options, etc.
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startingsmall

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2017, 11:05:41 AM »
Our daughter has attended a church daycare for the last 3 years... when she starts kindergarten in August, we'll continue to use the church's aftercare program. They also offer a before-school program, but my husband doesn't go to work until 9am so mornings are no problem for us.

The church sends a bus to pick the kids up at school when they get out, whether that's at normal time or early-release time. I'm pretty sure they're also open on all of the non-holiday no-school days, though I guess I need to look into whether that's included with aftercare only or how that is charged. My nephews both attended the same program, so I know that the kids are separated by age and the afternoon involves some combination of quiet homework time (for grade levels where homework is typically assigned) and outside play time.

My daughter LOVES her daycare friends and is always disappointed when we keep her home for a "family day." Even though some of her friends won't be going to the same elementary school as her in the fall, I suspect that many of her friends will still attend the church aftercare program and so this will allow her to keep those friendships in addition to whatever new friendships she forms at school.

BeanCounter

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2017, 11:26:11 AM »
I am a working mom of two and I totally understand your anxiety around this. I always chuckle a bit when people tell me that they are staying home when the kids are young and plan to go back to work when the kids start school. Our experience has been that it's pretty easy to find wonderful care full time when they are young and it gets more difficult every year after they start school. (depending with how comfortable you are with kids staying home by themselves after a certain age)
We have a mixed approach that has been working pretty well. Although planning it all still stresses me out.

-Odd days off and early dismissal days- I work from home and my kids probably get way too much screen time.

-Afterschool care- When my youngest was still in preschool we used a daycare that did preschool and aftercare. This is the most flexible low stress option, but it's expensive and I didn't really care for the after school program there.
We now use the afterschool program at school which is cheap and run by parish parents and high school helpers. It's pretty well done. The best thing about it is that the kids get their homework done there. You DO NOT want to have to do homework after dinner with your elementary kids. By the time they go through the school day and then aftercare they are just too tired. We just eat dinner, read, maybe play a game, and do bedtime routine. That's it.
This year it became apparent that aftercare is not the best fit for my oldest. It's a bit too much stimulation after a long day. Too loud etc. So we are searching for a babysitter from 3-6 for next year so the kids can come home directly, do homework with the babysitter and relax. (Mary Poppins where are you????) We'll pay a lot more for this, but if I'm going to keep working, I think this is the BEST option.

-Summer- We hire a summer nanny. And do a couple camps and a vacation to break up the time and work with her vacation/sports schedule. This is VERY expensive, but worth it. We've had great luck finding great babysitters. Our nanny this year is a return from last year and that is even better!

-Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break etc- DH and I are blessed with a lot of PTO so we usually ALL get to be home together. It's awesome.

Good luck. You'll find your way. One year at a time! Maybe a month at a time!

mm1970

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2017, 12:26:05 PM »
School schedules are tough.  My son has always been in after school care, and #2 will be starting kindergarten in the fall.

For the most part, our after school care goes with the school schedule.  So early release days they start earlier, or there is staff on site to monitor the kids until they start.  *Some* after school programs are actually open on some of the school holidays and breaks (but not all).

The kindergarten after school program at our school is run by credentialed teachers.  They have homework time and play time and organized activities.

How do we deal with erratic school timings?  We share drop off and pickup.  One of us goes to work early (7:30 am) and the other drops off the kids.  Early work parent picks up the kids, drop off parent works late.  This is important, because our after school care only goes until 5:30, so there's literally not enough hours in the day to do drop off, work 8 hours, and pick up. 

Random school days off?  Sick kids?  We split the days.  This means that either I'll take one day off and he will take the next *or* we each work 3/4 of a day.  Sometimes it can be a full day if you work at home too.  So one of us works 7 to 12:30 and the other from 1 to 6:30.  It requires us to take fewer hours of PTO.  And we are both able to work from home a bit too.

Also: camps.  Some camps run over Christmas and spring break.

I have friends who live in the Bay Area, which is way more cutthroat than our area.  They have a nanny pick up their kids from school and take them to activities.  They really couldn't conceive of that fact that we do it ourselves. And that when my spouse is traveling, I get to work late and leave early.  Flexibility.  I take it.

the_fella

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2017, 06:22:30 PM »
As a school bus driver, I can say that we cannot let kindergarten children off the bus unless there is an approved person there to get them. The parents determine who can or cannot retrieve the child. It's typically a parent or grandparent, but is sometimes a babysitter. We also drop some children directly at daycare centers in the afternoon. There are certain parents who are infamous for not being at the stop, and they then have to try to meet us at other stops on the route, or at our next school. It's a pain in the ass for everyone involved.

milliemchi

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2017, 10:09:56 PM »
As a school bus driver, I can say that we cannot let kindergarten children off the bus unless there is an approved person there to get them. The parents determine who can or cannot retrieve the child. It's typically a parent or grandparent, but is sometimes a babysitter. We also drop some children directly at daycare centers in the afternoon. There are certain parents who are infamous for not being at the stop, and they then have to try to meet us at other stops on the route, or at our next school. It's a pain in the ass for everyone involved.

And yet, the very first day of my daughter's 1st grade, in a new school, on a new bus route, on a new (not where it was supposed to be) bus stop, my daughter who was barely 6 years old was dropped off the bus at corner B, while we were waiting at corner A (almost across the street). She waited in the local school yard by herself, scared and crying, while we spent 45 minutes calling the new school, the bus company, the local school at the bus stop, etc., trying to locate her. Eventually, she was just around the building, maybe a hundred feet from us, if even, but we didn't know to look there, because that's not where the bus was supposed to stop. So, I guess it depends on the school district. She was 1st grade though, not K.

Beriberi

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2017, 09:59:48 PM »
I would encourage you to consider having an Au Pair.  It's a good program for some working parents.  Affordable - in our area of the country it costs as much as high-quality daycare for one child.  For that same cost (around 20k per year), you get flexible care for all of your children.  That covers the early release, inservice day, etc.

The trend in many schools is to decrease homework.  Some around here do no homework at all for the elementary ages. I think this is great - no evidence that homework helps, some evidence it hurts. I think kids need time to wind down, move, pursue what interests them.  In any case, I wouldn't make decisions based on what you think the home work load would be.

BeanCounter

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2017, 10:58:32 AM »
I would encourage you to consider having an Au Pair.  It's a good program for some working parents.  Affordable - in our area of the country it costs as much as high-quality daycare for one child.  For that same cost (around 20k per year), you get flexible care for all of your children.  That covers the early release, inservice day, etc.

The trend in many schools is to decrease homework.  Some around here do no homework at all for the elementary ages. I think this is great - no evidence that homework helps, some evidence it hurts. I think kids need time to wind down, move, pursue what interests them.  In any case, I wouldn't make decisions based on what you think the home work load would be.
We've been very interested in the au pair program. But we've had several friends do it now with very mixed results. The kids that apply are very young, just over 18 or so. So you're often getting a teenager who hasn't been away from home to come live with you and take care of your children. Our friends have said that they felt like they were having to parent this teenager (worry about them traveling on their off time, being homesick etc) as well as their own kids. You also have to provide a car, food, place to live etc.  YMMV.

jezebel

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2017, 11:34:40 AM »
I would encourage you to consider having an Au Pair.  It's a good program for some working parents.  Affordable - in our area of the country it costs as much as high-quality daycare for one child.  For that same cost (around 20k per year), you get flexible care for all of your children.  That covers the early release, inservice day, etc.

The trend in many schools is to decrease homework.  Some around here do no homework at all for the elementary ages. I think this is great - no evidence that homework helps, some evidence it hurts. I think kids need time to wind down, move, pursue what interests them.  In any case, I wouldn't make decisions based on what you think the home work load would be.
We've been very interested in the au pair program. But we've had several friends do it now with very mixed results. The kids that apply are very young, just over 18 or so. So you're often getting a teenager who hasn't been away from home to come live with you and take care of your children. Our friends have said that they felt like they were having to parent this teenager (worry about them traveling on their off time, being homesick etc) as well as their own kids. You also have to provide a car, food, place to live etc.  YMMV.

This is interesting.  I have a friend in a HCOL city who used an au pair.  They went through two au pairs before receiving a placement that was workable.  I think it was a headache, but they are happy with the arrangement now.  I don't recall the specifically issues with the first two, but maturity was definitely a problem.

Beriberi

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2017, 01:39:17 PM »
Europeans tend to be freshly out of high school.  They are popular among many host families because they tend to drive very well and need little cultural (how to use a dishwasher, how to make a balanced meal) instruction.  South Americans tend to have 2-3 years of college and possibly some full time work experience. They are also often poor drivers and need a lot of acculturation.  These are two very different populations that the program draws the majority of applicants from.  (There are also Asian and a few African Au Pairs - they are a distinct minority). 

Of course these are broad generalizations, but when someone tells me that they have problems with an AuPair and it is like "parenting a teenager" I suspect that they picked a bright and shiny 18 year old from Germany.  We've had 9 Au Pairs, 5 from Latin American countries, 4 from Europe.   Each person was an individual, but there were a lot of patterns.  8/9 have been successful 1+ year placements.

hunniebun

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2017, 02:52:05 PM »
My little one starts Kindergarten in September, It is 9:05 to noon daily with plenty of in service or professional development days (days off).  We opted for the before and after program, which provides a program called kindercare. for the afternoon. It is amazing...maybe even better than the school?! Because there are two staff for 8 kids, so more attention. It also means lots of outside and gym play, as they use these areas of the school, when not being used by the regular classes.  It is 25$ per day and for use is worth the money for the consistency and fun.  School schedule are NOT developed with household that have two working parents in mind.  Next year, for grade 1 will be great as we will be able to work our schedules to not need any childcare at all! Woot woo!

BeanCounter

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2017, 05:39:40 PM »
Europeans tend to be freshly out of high school.  They are popular among many host families because they tend to drive very well and need little cultural (how to use a dishwasher, how to make a balanced meal) instruction.  South Americans tend to have 2-3 years of college and possibly some full time work experience. They are also often poor drivers and need a lot of acculturation.  These are two very different populations that the program draws the majority of applicants from.  (There are also Asian and a few African Au Pairs - they are a distinct minority). 

Of course these are broad generalizations, but when someone tells me that they have problems with an AuPair and it is like "parenting a teenager" I suspect that they picked a bright and shiny 18 year old from Germany.  We've had 9 Au Pairs, 5 from Latin American countries, 4 from Europe.   Each person was an individual, but there were a lot of patterns.  8/9 have been successful 1+ year placements.
All three stories that I know of have been French. And all three were first placements. So you're pretty much spot on.
 I'm not sure having watched friends experiences that I would be ok with them caring for infants. So now that my kids are 8 and 4 it could be a good after school and summer option. However since nine months of their year here it wouldn't be full time work so it would be kind of expensive.

Beriberi

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2017, 09:33:58 PM »
I'm curious what your annual childcare costs are that would make an Au Pair "not worth it".  I live in a very HCOL area - so I have a skewed view of what childcare costs.  However, I would expect that you pay at least $1500 per month for full time daycare for one child and after school care for another child?  Also, we have the flexibility to use hours to cover evening care often - so we almost never pay for a sitter on the weekends. Summer time care (at least here) is easily $400/week/child for school-aged all day camps. There are lots of reasonable arguments for not having an Au Pair - but financial is not usually one of them.

BeanCounter

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2017, 08:29:21 AM »
I'm curious what your annual childcare costs are that would make an Au Pair "not worth it".  I live in a very HCOL area - so I have a skewed view of what childcare costs.  However, I would expect that you pay at least $1500 per month for full time daycare for one child and after school care for another child?  Also, we have the flexibility to use hours to cover evening care often - so we almost never pay for a sitter on the weekends. Summer time care (at least here) is easily $400/week/child for school-aged all day camps. There are lots of reasonable arguments for not having an Au Pair - but financial is not usually one of them.

I live in a mid sized city in the mid west. I don't think it's really a HCOL area, but certainly more expensive than some of the surrounding smaller cities and towns.

Just tallied it up again to see. It's close-

Currently I pay $256 per week for preschool and $45 per week for after school care. So that's $10,836 for care during the school year. In the summer I pay a nanny $450 per week for childcare. Summer is 10 weeks, we spend on vacation so her typical pay for the summer is $4,050.  I also pay for her swim club pass, pocket money to take them places each week, and I put them in a few camps for fun and she just transports them. But I would pay this if we had an au pair so I'm not including it in the cost analysis. Typical day camp costs around here are about $300 per kid. For a date night we pay $10 per hour, so that's about $240 a month for that depending how much we go out. Annually that's at the most $2,880.
Total for all childcare is $17,766.

The afterschool care is at my son's private school and is run by parish mom's, that's why it's so cheap. It is really too much time at school with the same group of kids so I'm looking to find an afterschool babysitter at our house which will cost me about $12-$15 an hour for 3.5 hours per day. If we do that this year for my oldest instead of aftercare it will increase my costs by about $7,830.
However the next year when my youngest is out of preschool I can do the afterschool nanny and total cost for all care would be- $16,830

Plus I don't have to provide a car with insurance and gas money or food for an additional person. Or take them on vacation with us. Etc.

StarBright

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2017, 08:33:16 AM »
We've made a few choices to get ourselves ready for our kids to be in school.

I took a pay and benefit cut several years ago to work from home full time. This accommodated my DH's schooling/job and we knew it would come in handy when kids started elementary because I would already have a strong history of delivering work from home.

When we moved and needed to find a new daycare last year we chose and got on the wait list for the one that offered after-care and "drop-in" options for additional school age kids (this will cover early dismissals and random in-service days). It was also important to choose this as our full-time daycare because they ONLY offer drop in if you were a former "student" or have a sibling in full-time care.

My oldest starts kindergarten in the fall and I will soon reap the rewards of my paycut sacrifice :) I'll end my "on-call" work day at 3:15 to pick up my kid from school and get to spend time with him until we get his sister from daycare at 5:15 or so. I'll have an hour or two of work at night to make up after the kids go to bed but will definitely be able to accommodate the school hours and hopefully have more quality time with my munchkins.

People thought I was nuts for doing elementary planning when my kid was 3 - but I feel really good about it as we head into summer :) Good for you for thinking about this early!

jezebel

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2017, 10:42:52 AM »
I'm curious what your annual childcare costs are that would make an Au Pair "not worth it".  I live in a very HCOL area - so I have a skewed view of what childcare costs.  However, I would expect that you pay at least $1500 per month for full time daycare for one child and after school care for another child?  Also, we have the flexibility to use hours to cover evening care often - so we almost never pay for a sitter on the weekends. Summer time care (at least here) is easily $400/week/child for school-aged all day camps. There are lots of reasonable arguments for not having an Au Pair - but financial is not usually one of them.

It definitely depends on circumstances.  Unless we had two+ kids in full time day care, we would definitely pay more for an au pair in our med-COL.  Even for one kid in daycare, full time is about 1K/month (which is on the lower end because cost goes down with child's age).  Summer camps are about $200/week (YMCA all day) per child.  When my youngest turns 4 soon, both kids will be in public school so it goes down more - we will need before/after care for one child and just after care care for the other.  Also, with immediate family in the area, we don't pay for a weekend babysit very often.

dreaming

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Re: Kindergarten and beyond - schedule and preparation
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2017, 04:33:01 PM »
We had our kids in the after school program that is at the school.  It is ran by the YMCA.  They also do/did the summer program there.  I had no problems with it, but as the kids got older, they sometimes did.  The staff was always changing, so sometimes they lost a good one, and gained one they didn't like.  There were activities they could do or a lot of playtime on the playground or in the gym.  My daughter also did some homework there when she was in 4th and 5th grade. 

I know we could have kept them at daycare and the school bus would pick them up and drop them off there, however, we live 8 houses away from our school.  Her house was out of the boundary lines for our school, so they would have went to one further from home.