Due to traffic and distances in Houston, many after school activities are done in the presence of a parent who can drive the child to athletic programs and other activities. Unfortunately, Houston is a typical big city and children aren’t too safe on the streets on their own. Parents are very involved with their children in after-school activities.Schools in Houston generally end their classes around 2:30pm to 3pm. Since children under the age of 14 are not allowed to be at home unsupervised, parents need to be home by that time. For some parents, this can be a challenge, particularly for expats who are working long hours. In that case, one parent usually tries to arrange a schedule to get off early or avoids working all together and stays at home. Some companies let you arrange a work-from-home schedule for afternoons, check with your HR department and supervisor.
When parents are unable to be home by the time school is out, there are alternatives such as day care that assists with home work, after school recreational programs, and play activities, for example Kid Fit. Costs average $100 per month. Kid Fit – 281-537-1631- http://www.kidfitchildcare.com in northwest Houston. The YMCA is also very popular with after school programs with over thirty locations throughout Houston – 713-659-5566 – http://www.ymcahouston.org. Memberships range around $80 a month upwards, depending on programs.
If not at home or involved in a program, older children usually hang around school, such as the basketball court area to play ball or go to a friend’s house. If the school is close enough to a suburb, they walk home in groups and go to the neighborhood playground or stay at a friend’s house until the parents are home. Most parents have some kind of arrangement with other parents.
A lot of after school programs are geared towards education or achievement programs. Can also check out programs for after-school activities such as ASAP http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/asap.html.
Some private schools offer after-school programs but public schools are limited. Public schools offer classes such as physical education or arts in which students can try out for athletic teams such as football, soccer, swimming or orchestra seats such as violinist. In that case, the classes are generally scheduled at the end of the day and may extend into the early evening hours. Due to cutting cost, many public schools no longer provide transportation to off-school premises, such as fields and swimming pools in other schools and parents pool together to transport their kids (hence the term ‘soccer mom’ referring to women driving large SUVs full of children). If it is a sanctioned event, tournament or match in another town, the school may provide school buses for transportation. Friday evenings in the cooler months, for example, is the time to play high school football and one can see school buses on the roads transporting teams to rival schools.
Overall, any after-school programs related to the school will be organized by the school and depend on schools and school districts. It is recommended to talk to other parents and the school’s dean for more information as programs vary widely but are generally involving either athletics or arts.