Important Information When Considering Day Camps for Children
Day camp can be a wonderful and rewarding experience for kids who aren't yet ready for an overnight experience, or who just want to keep a little closer to home. "Day camps should successfully integrate learning, creativity, new friendships and fun," says Katherine Murphy, early childhood education specialist at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA. "Camps are a great way to build upon individuality and learn how to work with peers."
If this will be your child's first experience with day camp, you'll want to make sure to check out the following tips and suggestions from the experts at Bay Area Discovery Museum.
1. Does your child easily interact with peers?
2. Is your child willing to explore new places and learn new concepts?
3. Does your child have special needs or a specific learning style that should be communicated to the day camp?
4. Is your child comfortable with being away from you? Has he or she had play dates without you before?
Making an easier transition into day camp:
1. Visit the museum or day camp ahead of time to create a comfort level.
2. Sign up for day camp with a friend.
3. Explain to your child as much as possible about the day camp. Let her or him help you research camps to provide buy-in.
4. Try preparatory activities at home before initial class to create excitement and learn more.
5. Talk to the instructor and build a good relationship so that your child feels comfortable at camp.
6. Let the instructor know of special requirements such as not eating specific foods or scheduled medicine.
7. Confirm that your child will be placed with the appropriate age group.
8. Keep toys at home as they distract your child from enjoying day camp and participating in the fun.
Questions to consider for day camp:
1. What are the instructor's qualifications, both in the activity and with children?
2. What is the camper to instructor ratio?
3. Does the camp match my parenting techniques and philosophy?
4. How does the camp handle discipline?
5. How much are sessions?
6. Is there extended care in case I am late in picking up my child?
7. Does my child need to bring supplies? (i.e. lunch, snack, special clothing, etc.)
8. Will my child bring things home?
9. How is the day structured? Do classes have play breaks? How long?
10. What is done to break the ice between children?
11. What will my child learn?
12. What are the logistics? How are drop-off and pick-up times organized?
13. What safety precautions are made? Is there a sign-in and sign-out system?
14. What are the emergency procedures? In case of emergency, who will contact me?
15. What if my child becomes homesick?
16. Are there any extra charges I need to know about?
17. Will classes be divided into age groups and set-up in a developmentally appropriate way?
18. May I call references?
19. What training does the staff undergo?
This information was adapted from The Bay Area Discovery Museum's day camp resource guide.
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