Is being home alone the only alternative

'I'm not really sure my 8- and 10-year-old sons are ready to stay home alone. What other options are there?"

a California parent

As you begin to think about whether your child is ready to stay home alone, you might also want to look into the other options available to you and your family during the time you are at work. Perhaps your child could attend a morning or afternoon school program those times when you cannot be home. Unfortunately, such programs are not available at all schools. If your school doesn't offer before- and after-school care, you might talk to a teacher or administrator, or an officer of the PTO, to find out how to get such a program going. As more parents become involved, the more programs like these are starting to appear at schools across the country.

On some days, maybe your child could go to a sitter's, a relative's, or neighbor's house, or spend time at a friend's.

Many libraries, churches, and community centers offer after-school activities for children. And many middle schools also have afternoon programs on an elective basis, including clubs, fun classes, and sports activities that meet after school.

Maybe your local community center offers afternoon classes in art or music, drama or computer, or some other subject that interests your child. A couple of afternoons a week, your child could go to the library after school to study and do homework. Some local libraries offer interesting programs and homework assistance for school-age children in the afternoon. Maybe the church or temple in your neighborhood has afternoon activities going on for kids after school.

Libraries, churches, and community centers often run school-vacation programs for children as well.

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