5 Affordable After-School Programs and Activities for Your Kids

Steve Debenport / iStock.com

Steve Debenport / iStock.com

As kids of all ages prepare to head back to school, many parents are looking for after-school programs their children can participate in. These programs don’t have to be 100% free, but it’s an added bonus if the program is affordable enough to accommodate most household budgets.

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From joining a civic organization like Girl Scouts to enrolling in school-sponsored activities, here are some of the most budget-friendly after-school programs kids will enjoy participating in.

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School-Sponsored Activities

What kinds of after-school programs are offered at your child’s school and in their grade? Parents may find a wide range of activities including sports like track and basketball, art clubs, theater, music or chorus groups or student government. 

Talk to teachers and the school principal about affordable opportunities. Discuss options with your child so they can pick which activity they’d like to enroll in. If there’s a cost involved, parents may inquire if it’s possible to pay in installments or if there are any sliding scale fees.

Don’t forget to ask about discounts, too. Discount opportunities can range from returning players to getting a sibling to join the team and even parents who volunteer to be the coach.

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Local Library Programs and Perks

Libraries are a fantastic resource for parents and kids to receive a wide variety of perks going beyond checking out books. Do you have a child starting soccer? You might be able to borrow sports equipment, like soccer balls, from the library. How about a kid who just joined the school chess club and needs to practice? Ask if there are any board games available to take out.

Parents of active readers may use this time to encourage their children to join any book clubs the library offers. Some libraries also host age-appropriate events for learning new activities, like yoga for beginners or open mic poetry nights, which are free for kids to join and participate in. The only requirement? Make sure your child is an active library cardholder.

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Lessons at Home

If your child is interested in exploring a hobby, like learning a new language or drawing, parents may consider enrolling them in introductory online classes. Many intro classes can be taken for free, such as those offered through YouTube. Children may participate from the comfort of home with minimal parental supervision.

Parents with a skilled background in a creative art can also teach and encourage at-home lessons. If you have a background in dance, set aside some time in the afternoon or on the weekends to teach your children basic dance moves and routines. Parents can act as teachers for a wide variety of activities like gardening in the backyard or basic yoga or Pilates classes for parents who practice this exercise.

Use existing resources available in your home and enjoy the time spent learning and bonding together with your child.

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Community Options

Do you have any community organizations in your area where your kids might be able to participate in programs or events? 

Check in with your local YMCA, 4-H Council, parks and recreation department and any Boys & Girls Clubs of America chapters to see what’s available in your child’s age range.

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Civic Groups

Has your child always wanted to be a member of Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? Consider looking into your local council and signing them up to join the troop of their choice. 

Civic organizations like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts allow kids to learn important life skills, discover more about the great outdoors and make families and communities stronger and kinder for everyone.

Parents with children interested in becoming Cub Scouts with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) pay a national registration fee of $100. This includes a one-time joining fee of $25 and an annual fee of $75. Depending on where your local troop is located, Girl Scout costs include a $25 membership fee plus any applicable council fees. 

Financial aid may also be available from both civic organizations. Check in to see what you may be eligible to receive and if it’s possible to waive any fees.

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