When children reach their middle level years (ages 10-15), parents/guardians may experience a false sense of relief because they believe their preteens no longer need supervision after school. This couldn’t be further from the truth. According the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, studies reveal that youth with too much time on their hands may actually be at increased risk of substance abuse issues.
One study found that eighth graders who were unsupervised for 11 hours of a week were twice as likely to use drugs and alcohol as those under some type of adult supervision. That’s just a little scary!
Let’s face it. In today’s economy, parents/guardians have to hold jobs, many of those not ending until well after their children are let out of school. Day care costs put family budgets at risk, and not everyone has a family network on which to rely for supervision. So, how can adults find the after-school supervision their kids need without breaking the bank? Here are some options:
- School activities. If you look into what schools have to offer after school, you will find a multitude of opportunities. Anything from after-school homework clubs to science and technology clubs to athletic programs. There is always something going on once that end-of-the-day bell rings. These can lead to positive, lifelong connection for our adolescents.
- Community centers. Many communities have Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs and/or other youth programs in which preteens and teens can get involved. If there is nothing like this in your community, gather some friends and start one!
- Volunteering. These connections often lead to an increased self-esteem because of that “doing good for others” sense of self worth that accompanies community service opportunities. Just think of the job skills your child can acquire by making the world a better place. A definite win-win!
- Youth organizations. Scouting, 4-H and many other student organizations have programs designed for middle level students. What better place to meet new friends, connect with others with like interests and develop work and life skills that will benefit them in the future!