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The 10 Best After-School Programs in San Diego

Check out this list of safe places for kids to learn and play while you work!

Image via Lola Ethridge

Parents in San Diego have a wonderfully diverse set of after-school programs available for kids of all ages. Schools and private organizations offer indoor and outdoor programs ranging from one to five days a week -- and some programs even offer transportation from your child’s school to the after-school fun.

Kids with many different interests can find something perfect for them, like dance classes, animal-based programs, science or language programs, and much more. Parents will note that the cost of care ranges from free to pricey and everything in between. We’ve compiled a list of the most noteworthy after-school programs around San Diego so you can find the best place for your child to be when they’re not with you or their babysitter or nanny.


Mad Science

Address, Hours, & Fees: Vary by participating K-6 San Diego school. Click here for locations.
Phone: 858-505-4880

Image via Facebook/Mad Science (San Diego)

Mad Science has been around a long time and has made a lot of parents and children happy along the way. The after-school program is a wide-ranging exploration of all things science and includes experiments, building, discussions, and group activities. This program lasts for one hour after school once a week, so it’s not meant to take the place of full-time after-school care. Instead, it’s is an after-school activity that truly inspires the love of learning and science in children who might be getting just a little burnt out from school. Each class is taught by a Mad Science instructor, and your kiddo will receive materials to take home that are fun and reflect what was learned so you can go over the experience with your child.

Mad Science also offers a chess-based after-school program, as well as an engineering program called Brixology that utilizes Legos as part of a weekly themed project focusing on everything from aerospace and machines to carnivals and creatures.


Boys & Girls Club of Greater San Diego

Address, Hours, & Fees: Vary by site. Click here for locations.
Phone: 858-866-0591

Image via Facebook/Boys and Girls Club of San Diego

The Boys & Girls Club is a United States institution, known around the country as an important part of many children’s lives in the hours after school. The clubs give kids a safe and healthy place to be before their caretaker picks them up. Most of the Boys & Girls Clubs provide walking programs, as well as transportation from school.

The large club provides a homework area and supervisors to assist with questions, healthy snacks, various sporting activities, and crafts and reading, in addition to focused programs such as Planet Health, a cooking and healthy eating class, and Club Tech, which teaches computer skills. Other programs -- like Youth for Unity, which focuses on tolerance and diversity, and Passport to Manhood, which provides positive lessons for boys -- teach emotional health and social skills.


Dance to EvOLve

Address, Hours, & Fees: Vary by participating school. Click here for locations.
Phone: 858-876-5327

Image via Facebook/Dance To EvOLve San Diego

Dance To EvOLve is an easygoing place for children to learn to love dance, and any parent who has had a child attend a dance studio knows that “easy-going” and “dance studio” don’t always go together. Parents appreciate the reasonable prices and the low-pressure recitals as a way of allowing their children to be involved in dance without feeling they have to be perfect to participate.

Dance To EvOLve’s after-school program works for children ages 2 to 13, and they specialize in ballet, hip-hop, and tap. The studio offers one class for free so your child can give it a try without the commitment. Many parents rave about the kindness and cheerfulness of the teachers, which can make even a hesitant dancer find their love of movement.

Woodshop Wizards

Address, Hours, & Fees: Vary by participating school. Click here for locations.
Phone: 619-749-7534

Image via Facebook/Woodshop Wizards

Woodshop Wizards took a somewhat old-school idea -- teaching woodworking to children -- and tapped into what has become an interesting, engrossing activity for children that not only stimulates their creativity but also teaches them a valuable skill.

At Woodshop Wizards, children start with simple assembly kits and can progress to making furniture, like the young man in the photo above. The children are taught by actual craftsman who are deft at their skill. Children in elementary school and up can attend the after-school programs on-site at various elementary schools throughout the San Diego area.


Address, Hours, & Fees: Vary by site. Click here for locations.
Phone: 858-292-9622

Image via Lacey Lou Harden

The YMCA is so well-known and well-respected it’s easy to forget how amazing its programs are, and the after-school programs are no exception. Led by trained adults who then train young people to apprentice and care for the kids, the after-school programs at the Y are typically high-energy, fun, easygoing, and welcoming to all.

Programs range from swimming lessons to dance or tumbling lessons to groups similar to the Y’s summer camp program, with a broad price range depending on type of class and schedule. There are YMCA locations all over San Diego, so it’s easy to find one close to your home and your child’s school.


PrimeTime Extended Day Program

Address: Varies by participating school. Click here for locations.
Hours: Monday - Friday, after school - 6 p.m.
Phone: 858-503-1870
Fees: Free

Image via Maggie May Ethridge

PrimeTime is a free after-school program at more than 120 schools, but you do have to apply. Once your child is accepted, they attend the program where they’re able to complete homework in addition to exploring art, music, athletics, and cooperative team-building games.

PrimeTime gives parents peace of mind, knowing their child is having fun with classmates and friends in the care of trained instructors and caregivers, many of whom will go on to be teachers themselves. Many PrimeTime locations also offer a 90-minute before-school program, as well.

Helen Woodward Animal Center

Address: 6461 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Hours & Fees: Vary by program. Click here for details.
Phone: 858-756-4117

Image via Facebook/Helen Woodward Animal Center

Helen Woodward Animal Center is a nonprofit animal rescue and treatment center that provides a wide array of programs, including an after-school program. Children of all ages have the opportunity to be taught by animal specialists at Helen Woodward while working with live animals in a lovely setting, surrounded by trees and greenery.

Children in the afterschool program will benefit from exposure to a variety of animals, as Helen Woodward has horses, cats, dogs, bunnies, possums, raccoons, and more on-site. Therapeutic programs for children with special needs are also available.

San Diego Junior Theatre

Address: Casa del Prado Balboa Park, 1650 El Prado, Ste. 208, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours & Fees: Vary by class. Click here for details.
Phone: 619-239-1311

Image via Facebook/San Diego Junior Theatre

San Diego Junior Theatre after-school programs provide an invaluable experience for children, both those deeply interested in acting and those simply looking for something fun to do after school. The theatre is well-loved by parents and kids in San Diego for its inclusive and energy-packed productions.

San Diego Junior Theatre after-school programs are smaller play productions where the groups of children learn theatre skills -- like voice, location, and movement. After numerous rehearsals, they eventually perform a complete play, costume and all. The production will be for the students, staff, family, and friends.

Super Spanish

Address: 1636 Lake San Marcos Drive, Ste. 101, Lake San Marcos, CA 92078
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday, 3:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Phone: 760-510-9639
Fees: New student registration fee, $25 | Material fee, $75 | Siblings get 5% off tuition.

  • 1 day per week, $180 per month

  • 2 days per week, $280 per month

  • 3 days per week, $380 per month

Image via Facebook/Super Spanish

Immersion is the No. 1 way to learn any new language, and it’s scientifically proven that children’s brains are especially receptive to acquiring a second language. The Super Spanish After-School Program is perfect for parents who would love to see their child learn Spanish and who also need after-school support.

Super Spanish is instructive but also fun, combining games, music, and play, as well as traditional learning strategies to help children take on Spanish as a second language. Classes are available for children as young as 18 months old and continue to elementary school ages.


Youth Department at the JCC

Address: 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, & Thursday, 2 p.m - 6 p.m | Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. | Friday, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Phone: 858-457-3030
Fees: Vary by hours & transportation necessity. Click here for details.

Image via Facebook/JCC San Diego - Lawrence Family JCC

The Jewish Community Center of San Diego is a thriving community that includes a wonderful after-school program for school-age children. Every week, the children will be led by staff in activities such as swim, art, science, cooking, and sports. The trained and enthusiastic staff can also assist your child during quiet homework and reading time.

The JCC offers a friendly environment where children can thrive and explore their interests. New classes are always being added, such as a gardening club. The JCC also offers weekend care and special activities, so your child can spend additional fun time somewhere safe and familiar.


Did we leave out any great after-school programs in the San Diego area? Let us know in the comments below!

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