Children who go home to an empty house without parental supervision are called Latchkey Children. These children are usually left alone until one or both parents arrive home from work. Latchkey children are often told by parents not to open doors for strangers or step outside. A list of emergency contacts is usually left in a place where the children can see in case of an emergency.
Parents usually provide a snack for the children to come home to while they wait for their parents’ to come home and make dinner. Some parents even cook dinner the night before so the child can just reheat and eat. I was not a Latchkey child, but many of my friends were. Many of them would walk home to an empty house every day; some of them would have food prepared for them; and some would have to do it themselves. At our age I never realized that my friends would be categorized as at risk students because they went home to no one. The programmed I researched is called the START program.
The Start program helps children with anything from homework to tutoring, as well as reading, literacy, math and recreational activities. START also provides extended daycare needs to those students who need them. Each school’s extended program varies but all provides similar activities for students. Start also offers programs through community partners. The START program is not a known “Latchkey Children” program but many of the students here are latchkey children. This program helps to keep students from going to home to an empty house.
START provides a continued learning environment for children even after school is letting out. The other known Latchkey option is the Library. Libraries are most of the time near a school, so students tend to migrate there when school is out for the day. However, The American Library Association says that “their libraries do not have sufficient staff to provide child care. ” Although we do not have a known library latchkey children program, it is still a better idea than having the children come home to an empty house.
The library provides resources for children to use and a quiet place to complete their home work. Some schools even provide transportation to students who need it to the nearby library. Even though a library was not equipped to be a child care, it still provides a haven for children who do not have parents at home waiting for them. Both the START program and library are useful and exemplary to our students because they provide a continued learning environment for our students.
They both also require parental consent and parental involvement. In order for children to participate in the START programs, the parents must register their child at the school they are attending. As far as the library goes, it would be up to the parent or guardian where they want their child to go after school is out. The START program coincides with the school schedule so as long as school is in session the START program will be available. The START program offers activities after the school year is over but this varies by district.
The library coincides with the school calendar as well; however during school breaks the libraries remain open providing a learning environment to students during breaks. Libraries have more activities during school breaks for those students who frequent the libraries. These programs reach all their targeted students by making it appealing to the parents. The library is a free resource, which provides a safe and educational environment for a child to stay in. Providing transportation is also appealing because then the parents would not have to worry about how the children would arrive there.
The only thing the parent would need to do is pick up the child before the library closes. The START program is also a free program provided through the district to allow tutoring and activities for children as well. They help to educate and provide different activities for students on campus while parents are still at work. START also provides more than 3,000 different recreational activities to keep children active and learning. Both of the programs listed benefit the parents and children.Allowing the parents peace of mind knowing their child is safe as well as allowing the child to be active in a safe environment.
- American Library Association (ALA). ALA YEARBOOK. Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.
- Dowd, F. S. (2003-2007). ERICDigets. org. Retrieved from http://www. ericdigests. org/1992-4/latchkey. htm
- City of Sacramento. (2010). City of Sacramento Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved from http://www. sacstart. org/about. htm
- Kauchak, D. , & Eggen, P. Introduction to Teaching: Becoming a Professional (2nd Ed. ). : Prentice-Hall/Merrill.