Attending summer camp can provide many educational and social benefits for elementary-school age children. You do not have to send your child away for overnight camps for an extended period to reap these benefits. At day camp your child can learn valuable skills, meet new friends and grow intellectually. However, you need to make sure you choose the right type of camp. Furthermore, if your child attends a Montessori school during the academic year, there are certain criteria the day camp should meet. The following guide can be your cheat sheet to narrowing down a list of camps that will serve your child's needs.
Zero In On Mixed Aged Camps
Many camps mirror the age segregation of typical grade schools, separating children by age. However, if you need or want a camp that mirrors the structure of a Montessori school, you need to find a program that has mixed age groups.
In Montessori-type classrooms, children can intermingle with classmates that are a few years younger and a few years older. The advantage of this approach to teaching is that younger kids can learn from their peers while older kids can serve as leaders and role models. Children may grasp concepts quicker when they learn from classmates rather than a teacher.
A mixed-age camp provides kids with the chance to learn how to interact socially with a diverse group of people. In addition, just because kids are the same age does not mean that they are at the same level developmentally. A six-year-old may be more in tune with the social and intellectual skills of a child that is a few years older. A mixed camp allows the younger child to interact with someone on their same level.
Choose a Camps With a Wide Range of Activities
Going to camp is a great place for kids to explore their interests and maybe discover a passion. While many camps offer specializations such as music, sports or art, those camps may be more suited to older children who have already made their main interests clear.
For younger children, camp can be a time of free-form exploration to meander from one activity to the next without feeling confined to something that will not hold their attention in the long run.
So, look for camps that offer a good mix of art, outdoor activities, music, creative writing and more. Young children are curious and ready to learn and absorb. Confining them to one or two activities during camp could diminish that curiosity and make them bored.
Make Sure Kids Have Plenty of Time for Self-Directed Exploration
Many camps last all-day which is great for working parents who do not have relatives to watch kids during the summer. However, you do not want to enroll your kid in a camp that resembles school, especially if you have children who get bored at school and drag their feet to get ready in the morning during the school year.
Summer programs for kids should be exciting and fun-filled with plenty of time for self-directed exploration. Camps that enable kids to have long, uninterrupted periods of self-directed exploration in a classroom or outdoors on the playground are taking cues from the Montessori philosophy of unstructured play.
Kids should have time to be carefree and independent without an adult hovering over them in an overly structured environment. So, when you narrow down your camp choices look for programs that offer a mix of structured and unstructured time.
When you find the camp that matches the criteria above, you will be giving your child a chance to have a memorable experience where they improve their social and intellectual skills while having a good time.
Kids develop at their own pace. Some kids are ready to learn at a very early age while some require more time to be prepared to take in information. My blog will help you identify the learning pace in which your child is ready to perform. You will learn signs to watch for so that you know what your child can handle and signs that could tell you that you are pushing a little too hard. I hope that my own personal experiences can help you and your child begin on the path of learning at a pace that you are both comfortable with.