What to Look for in a Children’s Summer Program
What do you look for in a summer program (or summer camp) for your children? If you work full-time, you are probably looking for a reliable program with flexible hours to give you coverage. But chances are, you also want your child to enjoy summer and have a break from their regular, school year routine. And if you don’t work full-time, you might be looking for a program that include time with other children, some fun activities, maybe some sports and outdoor time.
As an educator and executive director of a private school, I have my own take on what’s important for children in the summertime. Here are my top choices and why:
- Quality childcare: No matter what the season, children deserve a well-planned program with engaging, inspiring activities. There is no replacement for quality educators who work with children year-round to provide developmentally appropriate activities and learning.
- Familiar Teachers: A perk in a summer program for sure, but isn’t it nice if your children can be with the teachers they know and who know them well – even in the summer?
- Small groups: Just like the rest of the year, small group sizes allow for more individualized attention and learning for your children.
- Field Trips: I am a big believer in outings that take children to new places and allow them to explore. Summer provides a great opportunity for exploration outside the classroom – and I find that the younger kids especially enjoy taking field trips. We are lucky to live outside of Boston, where we have access to so many fun field trips: Fenway Park, the Swan Boats, Science and Children’s Museums – or more “summery” activities such as picnics, strawberry picking and miniature golf.
- Fresh air, time outside: Keeping with the exploration theme, I am passionate about providing children with time for free outdoor play. So much learning takes place in nature: on any given day, you may see children making up their own games, or they might be exploring a pond with sticks and finding frogs.
- Learning to Swim: Summer is also a great time for children to learn how to swim and go boating. Swimming is one of those life lessons – and it is much more fun outside in the sun.
- Downtime: Just like the rest of the year, I believe that children benefit from quiet time – to relax, or to do an art or cooking activity. This inside time is also about exploration: trying out new things and finding out what they like and don’t like.
What are your thoughts on summer programs? I’d like to know.