Child rearing is full of defining moments. Passing on your values, teaching how to be a good winner and not a sore loser, and helping learn how to navigate social relationships and friendships are just a few of these critical moments shared with our children. As parents, we often wonder if we are making the correct decisions for our children. We love our children unconditionally and work hard to ensure that every choice we make contributes to lifelong happiness for them. Often parents reflect on decisions made with big hearts but wonder if they are the best parenting decisions. Sound familiar? We all fall into the “second guessing parent trap”. Have we chosen the right bedtime? The correct disciplinary style? Have we enrolled our children in the programs with the best experiences for them? The time when somebody else is caring for your child often provides the most anxiety. Here are 6 things to think about when enrolling your child in an extracurricular activity (talking points included).
- High Quality Child Care--Determining that the environment is both fun and safe is a priority. Does the program uphold a nationally recognized accreditation? What is the staff to child ratio? What type of screening and training process does the staff complete? Simply put you want to understand who will be working with my child.
- Health and Fitness—Raising adults who are physically fit and have healthy eating habits starts by instilling these values in them as children. The CDC estimates that 17% of children ages 2-17 are obese. That is a staggering statistic. Choosing child-care programs that emphasis fitness and encourage healthy food choices is key. What type of snacks will my child be given? What type of physical activity will they engage in? How much time with an electric device (tv, computer, smart phone) will my child be exposed to?
- Educational Enrichment—Educational advancement is important. What and how will my child learn? Take the time to evaluate the level that your child will be mentally stimulated. Will all 5 senses be part of the learning process? How engaged will my child be? Will there be opportunities to learn in ways my child has not yet been exposed to?
- Development of Social Skills—A huge concern, no matter how social your child, is will my child make friends? Ask how the program works to achieve that goal while making everyone feel apart of the group. What opportunities exist for my child to learn about appropriate social interactions? How will my child build confidence and gain self esteem in this environment?
- Community Stability—We live in a very different world than the one we grew up in. Most of us don’t even know that names of our next door neighbors. Look for a program that creates a community for your child to become part of. How will my child feel included? Who will be my child’s real life role models?
- Future Success—When raising our children we hope they will become competent and content adults. Take advantage of opportunities that provide world preparation and readiness. Will my child gain life skills such as problem solving, learn to manage separation from parents, develop skills to deal with uncertainty.
Summer Camp is the answer. It is the one environment that partners with parents to achieve all six of these points. Be the best parent you can be by giving your child the gift of summer camp.