Day Camps and Summer School
How to Find Activities and Sports for Kids
Whether your child is 5 or 15, if you are a working parent you are probably concerned about how to make certain that your child keeps busy and is supervised during the summer months when they are out of school. Although your child care needs will be different depending on how old your children are, your concerns will be the same. Even if you are a stay-at-home parent, you still want to find fun activities that will keep your kids active and out of trouble. How can you keep your children safe and busy during the summer? There are actually many good resources available, if you know where to look!
Local Day Care Providers
First, if you are a working parent and have other children who are preschoolers, you have already made arrangements for their child care during your working hours. Your first step with your elementary age children will be to contact the preschool where your younger children attend to see if they have any special summer programs for school age children. If you do not currently have preschoolers, contact your local child care providers anyway. Many of them hire extra employees and have special programs to help working parents during the summer.
There are other resources for temporary child care, too. For example, you might want to check with a Nanny Placement Agency. Many of them provide temporary Nanny services, which could fulfill your summer needs. If your community has a local newspaper or parenting magazine, they may contain advertisements for local child care providers as well as special summer kids' programs.
If you want to make sure your children keep up with their academics, either you or their babysitter can use summer bridging workbooks or activities to make sure they do not lose their skills over the summer. Here is a quick link to help you find these workbooks on Amazon:
Community Youth Organizations
Second, contact community organizations to see if they have any special day camps or other programs. Your church, the YMCA, the community Parks Department, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, art museums, science museums, and other local organizations may have special summer classes or day camp programs. Your local school system may offer summer enrichment classes. If you are planning to sign your child up for some of these day camps, you will need to call these organizations a couple of months before school is out to begin making arrangements. Often, the demand for these programs is high, and you need to be certain that your child has a spot.
Even older children who are in middle school or the early years of high school will enjoy many of the activities that are available through your local community center. All of the organizations mentioned above, including churches, the Scouts and the Parks Department may have summer opportunities for older children. In addition, do not forget to contact golf courses and yacht clubs for summer golf or sailing programs. No matter what interests your children have, whether it's surfing, tennis, or gymnastics, you may be able to find a summer program that your children will enjoy. For example, in the area of Southern California where we live, summer is the time when many teens learn to surf, kayak or paddleboard. Older kids may not like the idea of a "baby sitter", but finding a summer sports program, cheerleading camp, music camp or other similar activity may help get them out of bed and keep them busy during the day.
Find Someone to Drive the Kids Around
One of the problems we encountered when arranging activities for our 11 - 15 year old children was finding transportation to get them to their various day camps and classes, since my husband and I both worked. We were usually able to drop the kids off in the morning, but their sports camps and other activities sometimes ended at about 3:00. Instead of telling them that I was hiring a babysitter when they were 11 - 15 years old, I hired a local college student to be their driver. Although our children thought they were much too old to have a babysitter, they weren't at all embarrassed to be hanging around with a college student driver who could pick them up from their activities in the afternoon, take them to the neighborhood pool, or out for a snack, and then drop them off at home about the time my husband and I were arriving. The presence of the college student also gave me peace of mind because I knew that our children were being supervised in the afternoons. If I had asked another parent to carpool with me, my kids would have just been dropped off at home to hang out by themselves until my husband and I got home from work. I felt more comfortable knowing that they were being supervised, and our kids always loved the college kids they got to hang out with.
Summer Jobs for Older Teens
Don't forget your older teens when you are making summer plans. Even they need positive activities to keep them busy during the summer. We encouraged all our daughters to get summer jobs as soon as they turned 16. Among the jobs they had were: working at a local department store, being youth counselors at a day camp, and babysitting. In fact, they also became drivers for younger kids, once they were old enough to drive and had enough driving experience that other parents felt comfortable with them.
We came up with other creative ways to keep our kids busy, too. When one of our daughters could not find a paying job, we offered to pay her a small amount, about ½ of the current minimum wage, if she would do volunteer work. We would have had to give her gas and spending money that summer, anyway; this way we felt that she was doing something worthwhile to earn it! All of these jobs provided our teens with a little extra cash but, more importantly, the jobs also kept them busy, gave them some structure, and kept them out of trouble.
Remember, if you want to make sure they keep up with their academics, you may also be interested in summer bridging workbooks:
If you have kids in your life, you may also be interested in reading some of these articles:
An Example of a Summer Bridging Workbook
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(price as of Aug 4, 2015)