The Son Shine Club is more than just a place to park the children in the latchkey hours, between the end of a child's school day and the end of a parent's workday.
"Our goal is not to be a baby sitter or a day care," said director Brad Bolt.
"We are here to meet a child's academic and behavioral-growth needs."
Parents are welcome to register children, kindergarten through age 12, into the Arizona Department of Health and Department of Economic Security (DES) licensed program.
Reading is at the core of educational enrichment. Children are given time each day to read alone and be read to, by a teacher.
Children exercise their minds with math, creative writing, geography and science activities, Monday through Thursday, from 10:30 to 11 a.m.
Making maps of the United States was one of 11-year-old Mary Adams' favorite projects.
"We had people from the water department come and we got to do experiments with water," 11-year-old Morgan Shimono said.
"We put plastic on plant leaves and let them sweat and we put water in a cup and learned about evaporation," he added.
Most of the day, kindergartners through second-grader children are taught by Cheryl Wright and third- through fifth-grade children are taught by Patti Harrold, but, older students helping the younger ones is part the learning process at the Son Shine Club.
Keri Parker teaches all ages.
"In the mornings when I come, I like to help Miss Patti with the younger kids," Adams said.
"I expect (the children going into middle school) to act as mentors and role models," Bolt said.
"We have to act like adults," Adams said.
"But we get break time, so we can act like middle school students," 11-year-old Kaylen McBride said.
McBride, Adams and Shimono came from different elementary schools and did not know one another. They will head to middle school already friends.
"We focus on the Character Counts curriculum (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship) and place a spiritual spin on it where appropriate," Bolt said.
If there is a conflict between students, teachers relate the conflict to a character trait and ask them to think about what Jesus would do.
"We don't force kids to forgive or apologize, because they have to mean it," Bolt said.
The Son Shine Club is non-denominational, even though it is a ministry of the Payson United Methodist Church.
"Basically, my goal, related to spiritual education, is that the kids walk away knowing that this church is a safe place for them and that God loves them," Bolt said.
Each day when the children gather together to sing, messages from the Bible are reinforced.
One day a child came to me in tears because he had to memorize a Bible verse and was having a hard time doing it, Bolt recalled. The child knew the lyric of a particular song was actually just the Bible verse, so we practiced and the memorization became easy.
"I have to come here because my mom works," McBride said.
Judging from the laughter she shared with her friends and the respect the children showed the director, the Son Shine Club is meeting its goals.
The Son Shine Club operates weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during all school breaks, Noon to 6:30 p.m. on half-days and after school from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Transportation from the public school is provided.
There is a weekly fee. Financial assistance is available through DES.
Parents interested in learning more about the Son Shine Club can call Bolt or Nancy Guyon, assistant director at (928) 474-KIDS or stop by the church at 414 N. Easy St., Payson.