Today, I’m super excited to feature a guest post by Alex Robbins (thank you!). With registration to summer camps on its way, this is a must read! I hope you find it as informative and enjoyable as I did.
Tips for Parents Before They Send Their Kids Off to Camp or Daycare
By Alex Robbins
Sending your kids to a child care program – whether it be a summer camp or a daycare – can be a great idea for both parent and child. Kids can experience new things, make new friends, and learn new skills while parents can have some much-needed relaxation time. It’s a win-win situation – if you make the right decisions. Here are some essential tips for parents on what to do and consider before sending their kids off to camp or daycare.
Talk to you child and figure out the right type of camp
If your child isn’t ready for the full sleepaway camp experience, it’s important to figure that out before you send them on a trip that could end up disastrous. Conversely, if your child is ready for an adventure it would be a shame to bore them with a minimal camping experience. Does your child want to stay local, or venture to a camp that’s further away? Is your child ok with all-day daycare? Or do they need half-day care to work their way up to being apart from you for that long? These questions are vital to knowing the right situation to put your child in over the summer. Don’t exclude your kid from the conversation. In the end it’s all on you as a parent, but your child is the one who’s going. Their input should not be ignored.
Know how to avoid bad programs
There’s nothing worse than spending your money on a summer camp or daycare center and finding out later that the facility isn’t taking good care of your child. Maybe the program is uninspired, the facilities are dirty or under-maintained, or the staff is unqualified and unattentive. It’s worth it to take the time to do your research beforehand, so you can weed out any bad apples.
One thing that should send up major red flags is the program’s child to caretaker ratio. If there are too many children and not enough adults, it’s very unlikely that your child will receive the proper amount of attention. Another thing to look for is accreditation. Some non accredited centers are just fine – even wonderful – but you really need to dig deep to figure it out. Accredited programs have gone through rigorous tests to ensure they are up to snuff.
Talk to the staff at the camp or center. Ask how they are chosen. What are their qualifications? Is there an open-door policy, as in there are no restrictions on when you can show up to check on your child? If not, they may have something to hide.
Talk to your kids about possible dangers
It helps to be prepared – even over-prepared. Before you send your child away to be in the care of others, you must talk with them about some potential dangers that could arise.
One talk you need to have is the one about alcohol abuse. It’s important to set clear boundaries for your child, so if the moment arises they will have your voice in the back of their head. It’s also important to take an understanding approach, however, that doesn’t scare or shame. Your child needs to feel comfortable being honest with you, and that can’t happen if they are constantly in fear of punishment.
Another talk you should have is the physical abuse talk. It’s a tough subject to bring up, but it’s paramount to ensuring your kids have a safe and fun time while away. Let your kids know that there are no such things as secrets when it comes to their interactions with adults and other kids while away. Be frank with your kids, so they will know how to accurately describe any situation that made them uncomfortable, should the unfortunate situation arise.
You wouldn’t take a vacation without doing the proper research and making specific plans. Sending your child on a “vacation” is no different. Take the time to pick the right facility and talk to your kids about any potential dangers – even if they seem far-fetched.
Alex Robbins is a father to three lively boys who believes that home safety is a number one priority when you are around this much energy and curiosity! He is involved with a community of parents at Safety Today that have come together to help promote safety in the home and in the community.