We’re definitely going to need before and after care for our children this school year (2018-2019).
We’ve started looking into what the standard options are, and we’re a little worried.
As a former teacher, I have seen what before and after care can be (a waste of children’s time, with some fun mixed in) and hope to find something better.
Idea Lab After School Program
Idea Lab is located in Ellicott City/Columbia on Route 108 near Red Branch Road. It specializes in STEM programs for kids, and it is one of the few places that will pick kids up from school and transport them. They pick up a schools that are within 5 miles (elementary and middle schools).
I’d note that you may not find it easy to navigate their website to determine the pickup options, but just give them a call — they definitely do offer this service.
They have some great options for STEM classes and activities after school. They offer classes in coding, 3D printing, cooking/baking, and more.
It’s a great option to consider. Here is a sample of their offering for Spring 2020.
Martial Arts Centers After School Programs
Another possibility is a martial arts program at one of a few locations around Howard County. The deal is that for about $450 dollars/month, a member of the martial art’s schools staff picks up your child up after school (walking or typically with a van) your child may get a snack, and then they take martial arts classes and have some free time to do homework.
The local Howard County martial arts schools with after-school programs that I know of are:
- Wilde Lake Karate After Care $450/month
- World Champion Martial Arts Laurel, Md
- Hwarang Martial Arts $89/week after school only – Serves schools near 21045 zip code.
- Harraday’s Karate & Fitness Columbia, Md – Not sure which schools they serve with their after-school program.
In-School Before and After Care
The public schools in Howard County all have on-site before and after care. Some of the programs are run by Howard County Parks and Recreation, and some are primarily run by the Columbia Association. This means you won’t have a choice–it’s either one or the other.
At our local elementary for example, before and after care is run by Columbia Association. It turns out, however, that there are “special programs” that are added on by the Howard County Parks and Rec. For example, they have a 12-session before school chess club running this fall from Silver Knights Chess.
Checking out the Recreation and Parks after care page, it definitely looks as if they have some good programs, but recently, we heard some parents complaining about this program one day while my girls were taking a ballet lesson–exactly what I am afraid of, basically frequent disorganization, and more of a babysitting service than anything else. I hope that’s not what I will find.
The following elementary schools have before and after care provided by Recreation and Parks:
- Bellows Spring Elem
- Bollman Bridge Elem
- Bushy Park Elem
- Dayton Oaks Elem
- Deep Run Elem
- Ducketts Lane Elem
- Elkridge Elem
- Forest Ridge Elem
- Fulton Elem
- Gorman Crossing Elem
- Hollifield Station Elem
- Ilchester Elem
- Laurel Woods Elem
- Lisbon Elem
- Manor Woods Elem
- Pointers Run Elem
- Rockburn Elem
- St. John’s Lane Elem
- Triadelphia Ridge Elem
- Veterans Elem
- Waverly Elem
- West Friendship Elem
As mentioned many of the local schools have programs offered by Columbia Association. There is an application on the website. You may find that your school has a waiting list for the before and after care. You can call them on 410-715-3000 to check on the waiting list. The following elementary schools have Columbia Association before and after care:
The Columbia Association programs are convenient, but certainly aren’t what I’d call cheap-basically you’re going to pay $183/month for before care starting at 7am, and $260 for aftercare until 6pm or both for $493/month (These are 2018 prices, subject to change! Financial aid is available) for before and aftercare. (They also offer a full-day program for days when school is closed for $55/day. See my list of other options for schools out camps)
So for that kind of money, and for spending so much of your child’s time, you can only hope for well-run, worthwhile offerings. The website states that the ratio of students to staff in this program are no more than 15 to 1. Also, worth mentioning is that they provide snacks (I hope they’re healthy snacks!)
So that’s one option, easy if you don’t get waitlisted, but what are the other options?
As mentioned earlier, some of the elementary schools also have special add-on aftercare programs that are available through Howard County Parks and Recreation or Columbia Association from local businesses. (ie-Chess, music lessons, yoga, sports, Girls on the Run, scouting–see my post about after school activities in Howard County!) You have to check with your school or browse through the online catalog to see what’s available and the additional costs.
If your student is a middle schooler, there are also programs at some schools run by Howard County Parks and Recreation called Can-Teen ($299/month). Details about the program and the registration forms are here. It is available at the following schools:
- Bonnie Branch
- Elkridge Landing
- Folly Quarter
- Lime Kiln
- Mayfield Woods
- Thomas Viaduct
Does anyone have any additional suggestions?
What have you found about before and after care at schools in Howard county? Also, check out this post if you’re looking for other worth-while activities to do with your kids in central Maryland and if you’re looking for gift ideas for your child, see my post about birthday and holiday gift ideas for smart kids. (Also see my birthday party ideas for kids in Howard County)