After school for middle schoolers? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 09-19-2009, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I posted a variation of this last year in one of the more general forums (can't remember which), and felt like many of the responses I got were from people who hadn't actually experience parenting older children yet, so I'm going to try again here.

My son attends 5th grade at a small crunchy charter school in an urban area. He could conceivably stay there for middle school, but for a variety of reasons I'm not sure I want him to. Right now the prime contender to replace it is a large public middle school in an affluent inner ring suburb -- we'd move to be in district.

One fact that plays in my decision (far from the only one, there are huge differences in demographics, curriculum, and extracurriculars) is the question of what happens afterschool. Here are the options the way I see it.

School 1 (current school): He would stay in school sponsored afterschool activities each day until I could pick him up around 6:00. The activities aren't things he'd necessarily choose because the options are limited. There have been several murders of children afterschool along the route he'd have to walk home. Walking home will never be an option in my opinion (or at least not until he's in high school which would be a different school anyway). The way I see it the pros are that he's supervised and busy/out of trouble. The cons are that he'd be arriving home around 6:20, after a 10 hour day with homework he needs to start.

School 2: Afterschool options would include riding the school bus home to an empty apartment (the dog would be there for company) arriving at around 2:45 and staying alone until maybe 5:30 or 6:00, staying for afterschool "clubs" for an hour and a half, and then riding the school bus home and staying alone for an hour (this is only an option T, W, Th), walking or riding the public bus (in a very safe neighborhood, about a mile and a half) to Grandmas (not every day, she's pretty busy), staying afterschool to 6:30 with kayaking or rock climbing club (once or twice a week) and getting picked up, or walking a mile (again, safe walk) to the subway and traveling to his best friend's house or Tae Kwon Do classes, and having me pick him up there. Pros: He'd love all these things, the clubs and activities are things he enjoys, on the days he came home he'd have a shorter day and could start on homework or recharge his batteries. Cons: How do I feel about my 11 year old walking around the city, riding the public bus, and being home alone after school? In later years he would also have the option of staying and practicing on a sports team, although I'm not sure he'd pick it. Sports teams aren't open to 6th graders.

He likes the idea of coming home on the school bus to an empty house, and he likes the array of afterschool classes at school #2, but he isn't too sure about the public bus, the subway, or the long walk. I'm a big believer in listening when your kid tells you what they're ready for, so that's a factor.

He's a very sweet, super responsible, well behaved kid, with a lot of "wisdom" and common sense.
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#2 of 5 Old 09-19-2009, 11:45 AM
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I'd go option 2 and start now at least once a week riding the public bus, subway and walking the walk. Perhaps a prepaid phone with your numbers programmed in would ease his anxiety as well.


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#3 of 5 Old 09-19-2009, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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To clarify, he rides the subway, public bus, and walks places all the time, just not by himself.

In our current neighborhood, I'm not comfortable with him doing those things and won't be for a long time. It's a great vibrant funky neighborhood, but street crime is a real problem.

If we move we'd probably move in the spring, so he'd have a chance to get used to the new neighborhood, make friends at the community pool etc . . . before starting the new school. Maybe once he knew the new area he'd feel comfortable doing those things alone, or would find friends to walk or ride with. If not I could have him ride the school bus 5 days a week if I decide I'm comfortable with him being home alone. I think I am.
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#4 of 5 Old 09-21-2009, 12:24 AM
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I have twins so mine were never technically alone. But in 6th grade they did ride the school bus home & stayed alone until I got home. They appreciated having the time to unwind.
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#5 of 5 Old 09-21-2009, 08:28 PM
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Here's perhaps another option.......find a SAHM near school #2 who will watch him after school for a little $. He can walk to her house, and you could pick him up there later. Of course the time he arrives could vary depending on what after school activities he has.
(I found such a woman through talking to the PTA president of the school. If you don't know the PTA president, ask the office for her phone #)

You could also see if a "Boys and Girls Club" operates at the school (or picks up the kids to take them to activities elsewhere.)

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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