The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 24, 2014

Another snow day

Whether staying in or heading out, families seek out activities

BY JENNIFER BAILEY jbailey@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — Babysitters, parents and others had to dig into their refrigerators and find more activities for children to do on another snow day Thursday.

Vonna Bley, children’s department director at the Danville Public Library, said the library isn’t affected too much on snow days when children are off from school.

“A lot stay in,” Bley said of families not venturing out to the library and other places in the cold.

The Boys and Girls Club also was quiet Thursday. The club doesn’t have a days-off program.

Club executive director Rob Gifford said transportation is a big issue for parents of club members. Normally, school buses bring the children to the club after school.

Gifford said the club might look at doing something maybe starting next school year for when students have days off from school.

He said the club could bring in a couple staff members, but they’d have to see how many parents would be interested in having a days-off program and could bring their children to the club.

There was plenty of activity Thursday at a busy Danville Family YMCA.

Parents who have to work on snow days can take their children to the YMCA’s days-off program. There also is a Y-Kids program that has families receiving assistance watching their children before and after school.

Tywon Gouard, youth and family director at the YMCA, said children start coming in at 7 a.m. and can stay until 6 p.m. The cost is $22 per day.

“Their day is filled with various activities,” Gouard said. “They do stay busy.”

The children can swim, play gym activities, participate in arts and crafts, work on computers and do other activities. The children, generally in kindergarten through 6th grade, also are fed a meal prepared by Presence United Samaritans Medical Center.

“A lot of parents depend on the program,” Gouard said.

“We certainly see the children that attend our regular program,” he added about snow days.

Then there are more children who attend, such as from Oakwood and other school districts.

Chelsey Byers, family life educator with the University of Illinois Extension, said there are positives and negatives for families with snow days.

“There’s probably not a kid around town who’s not happy to be out of school,” she said laughing.

But snow days can put additional stress on families who don’t have readily available and reliable child care.

“A lot have to miss work, and that (can) add stress to their lives,” Byers said.

The adult’s co-workers also are affected by having to pick up their absent co-worker’s work too, she added.

Byers said more snow days also can affect the last day of school for children in May or June and affect vacation plans. She said families can be planning a big vacation when they think their children will be out of school, but the plans may be interrupted.

It will be hard for the children to go more school days into June, if needed, she said.

Some benefits of snow days can be more family time together, even unstructured family time, Byers said. She said children participate in so many sports and activities that this free time may be a nice time out for families.

“It gives everybody time to recharge,” Byers said.

Families can also play games together, sit down and watch a movie as a family, bake and do other things together, she added.