Choosing the right child-care program is a big decision for a family, and with the school year approaching, an estimated 70% of families with elementary-age children are about to embark upon that task. 

To help make the decision a bit easier, consider these factors to find the right program:  safety, committed and qualified staff, program structure, variety of activities, opportunities for social growth, and open communication between staff, parents and children.

The Dunedin Parks & Recreation Department understands the importance of finding the right fit — and we’re confident we are the place.  We provide outstanding programs that embrace all the above program components and more. 

Before & After School programs are provided at Dunedin, Garrison Jones and San Jose Elementary Schools for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade children.  

We believe in a structured program, with safety as the paramount factor.  The foundation of this structure is our qualified and caring staff.  Staff are background screened, maintain CPR and First Aid certifications and are trained in topics including child development, supervision, behavior management and creative lesson planning.

Each day is approached with positive energy and enthusiasm because staff truly love working children, something that cannot be taught.  Staff become more than just professional care givers; they become part of families’ lives, sharing in events such as birthdays, little league wins and successes in school.  

Organization, preparedness and daily routines contribute to a structured environment that allows children to feel comfortable and make good choices, because they know what is expected of them as well as what to expect during their day.  Children are exposed to a variety of experiences that may appear recreational on the surface but are designed with the development of the whole child in mind.

Children have fun playing capture the flag and crab-walk soccer while reinforcing the importance of active, healthful living which can decrease chances for diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Active play can also be a great outlet to help reduce stress.  Art, music and drama provide excellent opportunities to stimulate a child’s sense of individuality and creativity.  During games of four square, charades or freeze dance, children develop both emotionally and socially.

They learn skills such as cooperation, sharing and compassion for others.  Through play, children also learn to communicate and interact with others.  Staff engage in open communication, sharing daily achievements as well as encouraging feedback.  

For detailed information on these programs, call 727-812-4530 or visit Before & After School Programs at dunedingov.com.

Jocelyn Brodhead is the recreation superintendent for Dunedin Parks & Recreation.