The After-School Lives of Children: Alone and with Others While Parents Work

The After-School Lives of Children: Alone and with Others While Parents Work

The After-School Lives of Children: Alone and with Others While Parents Work

The After-School Lives of Children: Alone and with Others While Parents Work

Synopsis

Based on research about after-school experiences and dilemmas conducted over a four-year period with employed parents and their children, this book draws on the stories these parents and children told--often using their actual words--to emphasize the wide variety of children's after-school arrangements, children's movement over time in and out of different arrangements, and the importance to children of multiple facets of their after-school arrangements, not simply the presence or absence of an adult caretaker. The book also emphasizes that children are not randomly assigned to after-school arrangements. Rather, parents and children struggle to reach optimal solutions to what are often difficult child care dilemmas. To understand these dilemmas, and the diverse strategies that families adopt, one must attend to the individual situations of children as family members understand them.

This book was written to contribute to the development of new family and work policies and practices by illuminating the difficulties families face and their consequences for children. Written for psychologists, sociologists, and other social scientists who study families, maternal employment, child care, or child development, it will also be useful for parents, educators, community leaders, and public policymakers concerned about the well being of children whose parents are employed.

Excerpt

At least 3.5 million school-age children in the United States regularly spend after-school time unsupervised by adults or older teenagers, and most discussions of this reality begin with the assumption that lack of supervision is problematic for children. Yet empirical research has produced unexpected findings. Some studies report problems for unsupervised children; others find no differences between supervised and unsupervised children; and credible studies have reported poorer outcomes for children who spend after-school time with older siblings, babysitters, after-school teachers, and their own mothers, than for children who spend after-school time on their own.

Most studies of unsupervised or latchkey children have ignored the tremendous variation among self-care arrangements, and very few studies have followed children from year to year to discover the significance to children of changes in after-school arrangements over time. Few studies attend to the viewpoints of both parents and children, and there are virtually no studies that give voice to either parents or children grappling with after-school issues. Most studies have looked for statistical associations . . .

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