What is special about School age Child care?
School-age programs are especially designed for children from six to 12 years of age who spend most of their day at an elementary school. These programs operate at various times including before and after school, at lunch, during school breaks an on professional development days when schools are closed.
School-age children have special child care requirements. They feel they are very different from pre-school children and want to be treated accordingly. Many do not even like the term “child care” to describe arrangements for their supervision.
It is important for adults to recognize that school-age children:
1. Need opportunities to choose from a wide variety of activities such as physically active play, quiet board and word games, crafts, and talking with friends. Encouraging school-age children to make decisions about their activities and accept responsibility for their choices supports their growing maturity and helps develop independence.
2. Have a growing sense of privacy and pride of ownership. They are more selective about their interests and are able to concentrate for longer periods, often devoting hours to a chosen hobby and participating in ongoing projects. They need access to areas where these materials can be left undisturbed over a long period of time.
3. Want acceptance and approval from friends who have an increasing influence on their interests, behavior and values.
4. A school-age program looks and sounds different from a pre-school program. An effective program ebbs and flows with the energy if the children. It is noisy at some times, quiet at others. It has enough structure to help the children to feel secure and enough freedom to prevent them from feeling restricted.
5. Staff in a school-age program are available to children without seeming to “direct” all of their activities. Whenever possible, they allow the children to solve their own problems and step in to help only when necessary.
6. The daily program allows children to choose from a wide variety of activities. There is activity space indoors and outside, and there are areas where children can be quit.
7. Snacks are nutritious and pleasing (having the children help prepare the snacks and clean afterward may be part of the daily program).
8. Books, craft materials and other equipment encourage the development of skills and introduce children to a wide variety of hobbies and interests. Some centres feature clubs that offer ongoing participation in activities such as drama and science. Centre activities may also reflect the children’s cultural backgrounds and include crafts, cooking, games and sports from around the world.
9. Sports and recreational activities provide opportunities for children to release stress and build skills. Field trips to skating rinks, swimming pools and other places of interest add variety to routine activities such as skipping, baseball and basketball.
10. May be more interested in the group activities and team games they organize themselves than in the activities adults plan and organize. While such activities develop co-operation and leadership skills, school-age children still need nurturing and guidance and an adult should be available to them for companionship and supervision.
The guidelines for licensing and program development for school-age child care are based on the following fundamental principles:
1. Child care for school attenders is an integral and important component of the child care services provided across the province.
2. The age range of 3 years 8 months up to and including 12 years subsumes a wide range of development needs and competencies and these must be reflected in the program requirements.
3. The particular needs of programs which serve children attending both school and child care settings are recognized and the principles of collaboration, coordination and flexibility are encouraged.
4. Programs for school-age children must be developmentally appropriate and support increasing levels of responsibility and independence as individual children mature.
5. Programs should provide an experience for children different from their regular school day, in a relaxed, caring and supportive environment which meets both individual and group needs.
6. The importance of well-trained staff with skills and knowledge specific to the age group is recognized as a major factor in developing a quality program.
7. Parental responsibility and involvement in the child care program is endorsed. Families should be supported both directly by the child care staff and through referral to other appropriate services when these are required.
8. While the separation of age groups is generally supported for safety and program reasons, the positive benefits of mixing ages and promoting the relationships between younger and older school-age children are important and some flexibility to do so should be available in the regulation.
Programming for 6 to 12 Year Old
1. Programs must provide for the increasing levels of the responsibility and independence of school-age children
2. Programs must have equipment, space and staff which enable age-appropriate activities to be carried out. An emphasis on gross-motor and outdoor activities is supported.
3. Program planning should reflect efforts to assist children to meet specific developmental milestones and age-appropriate objectives.
4. Programs for school-age children should provide many opportunities for children to plan their own activities and provide choice in activities.
5. Programs should emphasize home-like activities and allow children unstructured time and privacy for reading, homework or small social groups.
6. Programs should include an increased emphasis on recreational activities and skill development in the areas of interest expressed by the children.
7. Programs for older school-age children should encourage the pursuit of hobbies and life skill activities such as cooking, sewing, home repairs, carpentry, dancing, etc.
8. Programs for older school-age children should encourage large scale projects which require planning, cooperation and industry and which may result in realized accomplishments and end-points. (e.g.. preparing and producing a play or musical, planning and carrying out a sports day or fair etc.)
9. Programs should develop as many linkages with the larger community as possible, encouraging involvement with libraries, recreation centres, homes for the aged, local artisans, small business, church groups, cubs, brownies etc.
10. Programs serving the 10 to 12 age group should have program elements which begin the process of moving out from a child care environment and enhance life skills and independence. The child care centre could begin to be more of a “check-in” point for these older children, such that with parental consent, they are able to engage in lessons, and other planned activities off the premises.