It’s summer. I hope your children are happy and having an enriching and broadening season. How wonderful that we have summers to give our children experiences beyond what they have at school!
As an educational consultant and a parent, I think quite a bit about summers. Many people, planning for private school or college admission, hire me to make recommendations for programs or objectives.
When advising families and making decisions for my own children, these are some of the questions I consider:
What are my goals for my child? Of course you want her to have fun, but do you also want her to gain confidence, social skills, knowledge of a subject she doesn’t learn in school, preparation for future learning or career, exposure to a new community or place, etc.? Every year, as your children grow, you can revisit this question for each.
What are my child’s goals for himself? Summer is the time that students are liberated from schoolwork and many adult expectations. Giving them the power to spend the summer doing what they enjoy helps them know themselves better and perhaps learn best.
Where will I learn about suitable programs or camps? Besides Internet research, from which you can glean much highly useful information, you can consult with free consultants such as The Camp Lady or EverythingSummer. Note that consultants receive referral fees, so they have an incentive to enroll your child.
How well is the program or camp I have chosen run? I have noticed that many traditional, established camps have more robust camper and parent welcome/support programs than do some academic programs. It’s important to research the counselors’ qualifications, counselor:camper ratios, food service, accommodations and other issues that matter to you. Before enrolling your child, interview administrators extensively and ask to speak to current parents. Think about what your child needs to be happy and successful.
Have I left enough time for relaxation and family time? Unfortunately, many students have sports practices and other academic and extracurricular obligations that start as early as mid-August. You may want to enroll your child in fewer organized programs to have more time for informal summer adventures.