Keeping Your Kids Busy Over Summer Vacation

If you're like most parents, you want your kids to have a summer vacation that's both educational and fun, preferably at a reasonable cost. Fortunately, these days there are a number of options available to keep your kids busy and learning all summer long. Before choosing a summer camp or deciding to keep your children at home, it's important to explore all of the possible options. Only then can you make an informed decision.

Also, keep in mind your child's temperament and needs when making plans for their summer vacation. You want your child to be engaged mentally and physically, but you don't want to run them ragged. Remember that kids need a break too, and make sure they're getting plenty of free time. Kids need to be occasionally bored so that they can learn to entertain themselves and become more independent and creative. With that in mind, here are some options to consider for your summer plans.

Private Day or Overnight Camp.  The most expensive and rigorous option is a private day camp, which may or may not include overnight camping. There are many camps that are built around fun themes, as well as camps that emphasize outdoors experience or academic subjects. Although these camps provide full-time care and sometimes an educational advantage, the downside is that your child will have little time to themselves. This is often the only option for parents who need full-time childcare and is often made more affordable by applying for scholarships.

Community Camps.  For a less expensive and more flexible option, consider community camps. These are usually part-time and cost less money. You can find community camp opportunities at your local YMCA or community center. Local churches and other houses of worship also frequently offer camps for a lower cost than private options. These camps vary in their quality and affordability. Ask neighbors and friends about their experiences with the camp before you sign up.

Co-operative Camps.  If you don't need full-time childcare and are willing to put in a little work organizing, you can participate in or even start a co-operative camp within your community. Talk to your friends with kids and plan a schedule so that you take turns planning outings with your children. One day may have a parent leading a hike in their local park. A creative parent may buy some cross stitch kits online from a company like Threaded Needle and teach the children to make something awesome. While this option is not viable for everyone, parents should consider working together to make summer more enjoyable for their families.

Visiting Relatives.  In the old days, it was common for parents to send their kids away to grandma and grandpa's house for the summer. Now, your parents are probably too busy to take your kids all summer, and you shouldn't ask them to. However, spending some time visiting relatives can be an educational and character-building experience for your child. If they're old enough they can even travel on their own. Make sure you offer to pay for the expense of caring for your child while they're staying with a generous relative.

Make the most of your summer this year. And, in between the activities, make sure they have free time to play!

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