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Planning for Summer Care...

By Joanna Collins
Special to County Kids

It’s the time of year when working families must begin to think about summer…or to be more precise, summer childcare! Although it may feel as if the school year has just begun, the truth is that the year is now half over. For those of you not fortunate enough to have relatives or neighbors who can fill in the “summer gap,” an organized summer program may be just what you need.

Begin your search for a program by assessing your individual needs. For instance, do you need a full day camp or will a half-day program work for you? Do you need care for the entire summer or will you be vacationing for any length of time? For those families with children in various age groups, you may need a program designed to include all age groups and abilities. If you have children with a particular interest such as a sport, science, or music, you may want to consider a program that caters to that interest.

Once you know what your needs are, ask your friends and relatives for program suggestions. Word of mouth is usually a reliable source for finding a good facility. Others sources to check are your child’s school, your local newspaper, and the internet. There are certain qualities that well planned summer programs share so do a little investigating before you enroll your children.

Most children just naturally love being outdoors, especially during the warm and sunny summer months. Be sure the program you are considering has plenty of playground room and equipment suitable to your child’s age and abilities. If there is an outdoor pool on the premises, look for proper fencing and adequate safety measures in place to prevent accidents. There should also be some shaded areas available for the children to retreat from the summer heat and sun.

Indoors, the facility should be cool enough to insure your child’s comfort, roomy enough to allow for “rainy day” gross motor activities, and well stocked with appropriate toys, books, and craft supplies to keep your little one occupied. Ask to see the summer curriculum and look for indications that there are planned activities and events that will be presented daily. While all children need free playtime, there must be a certain amount of built in structure and routine to help prevent chaos.

Staffing is another important issue. All responsible personnel should have adequate training and there needs to be a proper staff to child ratio…I cannot stress this point enough! Although summer camp is not as formal as a preschool/elementary setting is, there are still state and local child safety regulations that must be followed. Many summer programs employ college students and high school students as temporary help. This arrangement usually works well for all parties; the students receive experience and the children reap the benefit of have youthful and enthusiastic councilors. Just be sure that there are “seasoned veterans” working closely with new less experienced personnel. Staff should be willing to help you children with special needs such as applying/reapplying sunscreen or helping with changing/drying if water play is an activity.

There are many quality summer care programs available in our area. Start now to be sure you find the right one for you and your child.

CPDS Educational Director JoAnna Collins is a featured columnist for Chester County Kids a publication of the Daily Local Newspaper. Each month she addresses topics on parenting and child development.


Creative Play Day School
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1027 Newark Road, Toughkenamon, PA 19374
Email: cpdsinfo@cpds.biz

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