Ah, the school run. No matter how early it starts or how well it’s planned, somehow, it ends with a mad rush out the door. After school, the clock is still against us. The average nine-to-five day and long hours often conflict with school pick-ups, leaving many parents seeking additional childcare support.
It’s no surprise that school runs and after-school pick-ups leave many parents feeling stressed. The number of mothers to children of toddler age returning to full-time work is on the rise, having increased by over 10% from 1997 to 2017. Furthermore, the employment rate of fathers with children aged three or four is over 93%. Modern family life is busier than ever. Mums and dads are juggling the school run, childcare and long working hours on a daily basis.
The benefits of a healthy breakfast are well known. However, for some busy families, squeezing in time to eat and drink in the morning is difficult. Equally, after-school clubs offer a cost-efficient, safe and reliable service to parents unable to collect children at pick-up time. Wraparound care is fast becoming a need-to-have, rather than a nice-to-have, for reasons beyond simply providing healthy breakfasts for children.
Research shows that children who attend extra-curricular classes benefit in a number of areas. From improved social skills to new-found confidence, after-school clubs offer more than just a safe place to stay after school.
Children who frequently take part in after school activities are more likely to show higher levels of attention and participation in class. They are also less likely to develop behavioural problems.
Breakfast and after-school classes provide children with the opportunity to engage in new interests and take part in activities otherwise unavailable to them at home or in school. The opportunity to pursue new skills in music, sport or art, over video games, television or social media can only be a good thing for young people. Who knows, they might even get homework done on time!
Given the opportunity, most parents would prefer to spend as much time with their children as possible. However, work often interrupts family life. For this reason, breakfast clubs and after-school activities provide a safe, reliable, and affordable alternative for childcare, enabling parents to pursue careers and get to work on time!
Knowing children have received a healthy breakfast and are safe at school is obviously reassuring for busy mums and dads. When it comes to after-school clubs, many parents would prefer to know their child is happily involved in some kind of extracurricular activity than in another form of childcare.
In the UK, childminders cost approximately £5 an hour and babysitters can cost upwards of £9 an hour, on average. Two hours a day, five days a week; after-school care soon adds up, making after-school clubs preferable to many parents. For children, too, spending time with schoolmates and taking part in sports and activities makes for a far more enjoyable afternoon!
In the classroom, research found that children who eat breakfast are twice as likely to perform well in tests and assessments than those who start learning on an empty stomach. Children who attend after-school clubs develop better attention spans and confidence, making them more likely to take part in class. Behaviour in students who regularly participate in extracurricular activities is thought to improve, too.
Homework clubs provide children with a quiet environment to complete work, with access to computers, Wi-Fi and additional support – important educational tools, which may be unavailable to some children at home.
Parents who feel supported by wraparound care services are more likely to build stronger relationships with school staff. And, when parents and schools work together, students benefit in the long-run.
For schools, managing wraparound care can apply extra pressure to busy school teams., The planning and organisation required goes above and beyond that of day-to-day school operations. We have received regular feedback from schools suggesting that a new level of functionality for wraparound care management would help them better plan for breakfast and after school clubs. For this reason, we’re very pleased to announce the release of our new advance bookings functionality.
Advance bookings is our new feature that supports schools to better plan and cater for pupil lunch choices, breakfast and after-school club bookings, by allowing parents to make selections, book places and pay immediately, or in advance via a balance.
The flexible functionality enables schools to set payment deadlines and request bookings and payments early. This helps kitchen teams manage suppliers and reduce waste.
When parents book attendance and pay for selected items, the system updates automatically – particularly helpful for clubs with limited spaces. For parents who need to book their child’s attendance onto part of a session only, the system ensures spaces remain available for the corresponding part of the club.
For busy parents, ParentMail’s free mobile app makes managing their children’s account quick and convenient. Menus and payment details are clear and concise. This provides parents with an overview of how much they have paid, for items over a period of time. Parents can see how much is owed and where money has been spent, reducing parent debt in the long-run.
Automated reminders notify parents who are yet to make their selections, without the school office having to manually send alerts. For parents who are not online, manual payments can be added to the system.
We’ve built our new advance bookings functionality in response to the changing needs of schools and the challenges facing the education sector today. We’re dedicated to growing with schools and have supported their transition into the digital world since 2001. To find out more about new advance bookings, book a free demo and get in touch.