As a parent, it’s nice that your child doesn’t have to spend as much time in school on a given day as you have to spend at work. Then again, it seems like an oversight that they get to go home when you still have to be at work for over an hour.

For decades, families have been wrestling with the extended amounts of time children have to regularly spend at home when both parents (or the only parent) work all day and can’t be there to provide supervision.

After-school activities were created to remedy this, but many parents worry these are just glorified day-care centers for older kids. But as is often the case, programs like these are not all created equally.

What should a parent look for in a program to not only keep their kids occupied, but safe?

Something to Enrich Their Minds

There are plenty of programs run by both local organizations and private companies striving to help children struggling in certain subjects as well as foster a love of learning.

When one program sufficiently helps tutor a student at math, science and reading, the child can graduate to a program that will present these same subjects as adventures to be had and not burdens to bear.

Kids don’t want to spend their childhoods doing difficult and boring things, and understandably so. That’s why programs like these exist to show them these important subjects can actually be accessible and fun. It’s all about presentation.

Something to Keep Them Active

When parents have to leave their child alone and unsupervised, some aren’t as concerned that he or she is going to start engaging in illicit activities. Some are more worried their child is going to binge-watch YouTube videos while downing an entire gallon of ice cream and a two-liter of cola.

Luckily, youth sports aren’t just for Saturday mornings.

Many local park districts, and a few schools themselves, offer after-school sports and activities. Some of them stick to one specific sport for children who already enjoy the game. Others switch it up every day to add variety and to educate kids on the different sports and games that exist.

Either way, they’re making sure fewer children become addicted to a sedentary lifestyle.

Something to Develop Them as a Person

There are some things schools just don’t teach, and other things they don’t teach early enough. While many agree that ought to change, it won’t happen overnight.

So, in the meantime, there are programs to teach kids about things that will make them more well-rounded as a person.

Programs like these can educate kids on topics like business and economics by putting it in terms they would understand, like how to come up with an in-demand product and the implications of how they spend their lunch money.

Others showcase the arts in a more hands-on way than schools might. Now your child can draw without being told to pay attention to the teacher and learn to play more instruments than just the recorder.

An idea that’s quickly becoming popular is an after-school children’s volunteerism program. These instill the virtues of altruism and awareness in your child in ways schools can’t fit into lesson plans.

Something You’ve Had a Hand In

The reason why no specific names were mentioned here is because the availability of these programs varies by area.

Some of these options may not be present in your neighborhood right now. But the key words there are right now, because things can change, and you can help change them.

If you’re worried there aren’t enough offerings of places to go and things to do for your child after school lets out, talk to other parents who share your concerns. Many local officials and public servants have the power to help put such activities together, so talk to them as well.

If you start organizing things today, there’s no reason things can’t be ready to go by next week. The best way to demonstrate to your child that anybody can make real changes in the world is to demonstrate it yourself.