Are you enrolling your child in a summer program? Kama`aina Kid’s day site coordinator Jolena Tanuvasa observes, “For many parents, the two main considerations when selecting a summer program are price and location. While it’s definitely understandable, parents should also consider some other factors when choosing a program, in order to ensure it’s the best fit for their child.”
First, Tanuvasa says, ask what type of activities will your child being doing each day? Ensure the activities are in line with your child’s interest because it increases the likelihood your child will quickly adjust to the program.
Along the lines of everyday activities, learn what efforts are made to assist the development of new friendships. Children- like adults- have a more enjoyable time if they are able to connect with others.
Usually, activities are fairly easy to learn about, so the second item to look into is the employee requirements and staff training procedures. If new to the program (or even if continuing,) talk to someone from the program about hiring procedures and staff training practices.
Some questions to ask: Are employees required to undergo criminal background checks? What type of certifications must they obtain? What are your child-to-staff ratios?
While the activities are great, the staff are really the heart and soul of any program, and their efforts go a long way in shaping the child’s experience. Most, if not all, programs provide written information about their program policies and staff.
See if it has an American Camp Association accreditation. If a camp or program is accredited by the ACA, a parent can rest assured it is operating under the highest program and employee standards in the youth camp industry.
An ACA accreditation includes policies such as mandatory staff criminal background checks and clearances through the National Sex Offender Registry, a required amount of pre-program staff training, First Aid/CPR certifications for employees, equipment maintenance procedures, etc.
“For first time children, it’s helpful to sit down and talk to them, beforehand, and give them a sense of what they’ll be doing, or where they’ll be going. It’s similar to preparing your child for their first day of kindergarten, in which you want to give them a sense of what to expect,” Tanuvasa says.
If you have not yet registered for a summer program, do it as soon as possible. Tanuvasa believes most programs are still accepting registrations, but the longer you wait, the greater the chance it might fill up.