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How to Choose After-School Activities in a Pandemic

How to Choose After-School Activities in a Pandemic

Eight things to consider when selecting an after-school class for your child during COVID-19

One of the hardest adjustments for kids during quarantine last year was the loss of after-school activities. Not only are they a chance to learn and improve on various interests, but extracurricular programs are also the perfect opportunity to boost social skills in a fun environment.

Now that many after-school activities are once again open for enrollment, whether in person or virtual, how do you make the right decision for your family and pick the best extracurricular for your child? Here are some important factors to take into consideration when selecting an after-school activity during the pandemic before making a commitment.

RELATED: Find Virtual & In-Person After-School Activities for Your Child

What Should I Consider When Choosing an After-School Activity During COVID-19?

Check safety guidelines. Make sure you understand the organization's mask wearing policy, as well as what procedures are in place for limiting class sizes, social distancing, and cleaning and sanitizing classroom spaces and materials. “There should also be clear policies in place for handling a potential outbreak including communication to parents and standards for when to transition to online or cancel meetings. If these policies are not in place in advance and communicated clearly, parents should stay away,” recommends Sarah Miller, a teacher and the founder of Homeschooling 4 Him.

Consider the class size. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, it's important to make sure the class size is manageable for the instructor. For in-person classes, you want to make sure there is plenty of room for social distancing. In fact, recent data found that even when disinfecting and distancing measures were in place, the number of cases more than doubled when the class size doubled. With that in mind, choose a class with preferably 8 kids or fewer.

As for virtual, there should be interaction between the instructor and all of the students, giving ample opportunity for everyone to ask questions, share ideas, and get to know one another. So once again, be sure there is an acceptable teacher-to-student ratio.

Scrutinize the schedule. In-person classes should be scheduled at staggered times so there is no overcrowding or pushing past others when coming and going, notes Leo Young, founder of

RELATED: After-School Activities vs. Downtime for Kids

Look at the supply list. Kids shouldn’t be sharing anything during after-school activities. That means that arts and crafts supplies, musical instruments, and sports equipment should be for individual use only.

Select non-contact sports. If your child really wants to play a sport, choose something that is no-contact (or has been modified to be no-contact), like socially distant martial arts, tennis, indoor rock climbing, just to name a few. These are easy activities to practice social distancing and not everyone is touching the same equipment.

Check out the class list. Ideally, the same kids should attend each class each week—the less mixing the better, notes Dave Pedley of

Assess your child’s abilities. If your child doesn’t enjoy remote learning, then there’s a good change he won’t be thrilled with a virtual after-school program. And if she has a hard time keeping her mask on, then wearing one at an in-person activity might be a challenge for her.

Refer to the refund policy. Any program should have a clear policy in place—preferably in writing—of what happens in case the business needs to shut down due to COVID restrictions. Do they freeze your membership? Is a partial refund possible? Are payments or deposits carried over to the next session? No one wants to lose money so don’t overlook this important step.

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Author: Linda DiProperzio has written extensively on parenting issues for Parents, American Baby, Parenting, and Family Circle, among others. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons. See More

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