Summer is right around the corner and it's not too soon to start planning. While your need for child care is year-round, summertime offers special opportunities as well as challenges. Even for very young children, child care schedules often follow a school year model with transitions in June or September. For some children, the end of the school year will mean a move to a new classroom. For others, it may mean choosing a camp or recreational program followed by a new class or new school in the Fall.
Some children will be uneasy about the changes ahead. Changes in children's behavior and anxiety levels can occur when these changes take place. Try to think about each transition as an opportunity to teach your child how to handle new situations. Adults know that change is a constant, inevitable part of life. Talk with your child about the changes. Knowing what to expect and getting support from you can help your child gain the confidence to manage the road ahead.
Anticipating The Changes
For some children summer will mean changes in their regular child care program. There may be more outdoor play and exploration, and extra water play from bubble making to swimming. There will be new faces as familiar staff take vacations and substitutes join the program for the summer. Check with your child's program about the changes so you can help your child anticipate them.
For families using family child care arrangements, it is important to talk with your caregiver early about vacation plans. You may want to plan your vacations for the same time. Even very young children need explanations and reassurances about changing routines. A favorite blanket or stuffed animal may become even more important.
Arrangements For School Age Children
For many parents, the end of the school year can leave you scrambling for care. Think about your older child's growing skills and needs. If you want help finding resources, call your local child care referral agency. Summer care can be a combination of arrangements. Sometimes these can be shared with friends or relatives. You may be willing to share a caregiver half the day so that children can attend an arts and crafts program the other half. Meet your children's needs for summer by blending interests and talents with a carefully planned schedule for care. The key to success is to start early. Programs and camps are booked quickly or have registration days with long lines and often require applications and deposits well in advance. If you are expecting to hire a teenager for child care help, make that phone call as soon as possible. You may want to post a help wanted ad at your local high school, church or community center.
Considerations For Your Family
Combine a schedule of your family's needs with your child's interests. You can support growth in responsibility and independence, as well as providing rich experiences. Choosing the right summer arrangement for your child is a matter of knowing your child and asking the right questions.
Scheduling And Cost
- When and how often does the program meet?
- What are the arrangements for transportation?
- Does the program accommodate your family's work schedule?
- Does the program's start date and end match your child's summer vacation or leave you a gap in child care?
- What is the cost and is financial assistance available?
Children's Needs, Safety And Quality
- What are the camp's strengths and philosophy?
- Is the camp accredited by the American Camping Association?
- What are the experiences and skills of the director and counselors?
- What is the ratio of counselors to campers?
- What food is provided?
- How does the program respond to children of all ages?
- Do the program's activities address your child's interests and abilities?
- What are the condition and safety of the facilities and equipment?
- What medical care is available?
- Are some of your child's friends enrolled?
- How does the program help children develop new friendships?
Article reprinted from Child Care Aware Parent Central.