What’s the Best Age for Kids to Go to Half Day and All Day Summer Camps?
Many parents wonder when they should start sending their kids to summer camp. The answer is…it depends on the child because every child is different. Both half day summer camps and all day summer camps offer fun and character-building experiences, and kids at many different ages and developmental stages benefit from these summer enrichment programs. However, you know your children better than anyone, so making that final decision rests squarely on your shoulders.
But you don’t have to feel alone when pondering it. We’re here to help! Whether you’re looking for a few hours or a few weeks of mind-blowing learning, entertainment and adventure for your children, you’ll find it at a KidzToPros (KTP) camp.
The Best Ages for Summer Camp
Does your child love making new friends? Or does your little introvert shy away in unfamiliar situations? Maybe your elementary student shines at creating something out of nothing, but your high-schooler is more intellectually-driven?
All these factors and more help determine when your children might be ready to attend summer camp. Read on if you’d like more help deciding when summer camp might be best for your kids.
Under Age 4
An emotionally tender time developmentally, children this young often have difficulty adjusting to day camps without their parents present, and that includes KTP camps. Even half day camps present an issue for many preschoolers, as they often interfere with nap and meal times. We recommend a family camp, qualified day care or certified preschool instead for children this age.
Half day camps offer a great environment for kids in this age range to learn how to enjoy time away from their parents. They have fun, explore new activities and make friends outside their usual circle.
Camp programs for preschoolers and kindergartners usually focus on free play. Instructors emphasize values like sharing with other children, getting involved in group activities, safely enjoying time both inside and outdoors, and participating in beginning arts and crafts.
For many children at this age, starting with half day summer camps is a great way to ease into the act of separating from mom or dad. Kids spend time on their own, but not all day. This might be especially helpful if they’re still taking naps after lunch. You pick them up at a time that makes sense for their schedule. Try to match the camp to their personality and routine.
Some tips when your children are this age:
- Send them to camp with familiar snacks. It makes for an easier morning.
- Find out the instructor-to-camper ratio. Smaller groups mean more adult attention for your child.
- Make sure the staff is a friendly, experienced team with positive word-of-mouth endorsement from other parents.
- Ask the camp director about discipline and emergency procedures. Look at their handbooks and mission statements to make sure their values align with yours.
- Discuss with the instructor any sensitive issues your children may be experiencing. This includes temper tantrums, teething or speech problems, potty training and separation anxiety.
Think about what your children enjoy. Maybe they’re ready for a full day camp. Either way, give them a chance to help choose so they’re invested in the experience and make new friends with similar interests. That’s what summer camp is all about!
At this age, a child might be ready for an all day camp, especially if they’ve been to daycare or public school by this point. These kids understand daytime separation doesn’t mean being alone at night, away from their family, and they aren’t as anxious about new environments as younger kids. However, some children at this age might still not be ready for full day summer camps.
For the most part, elementary-aged children thrive at half day summer camps – and might very well be ready for all day summer camps. Either option can be perfect for kids who need some time without their siblings or to combat the boredom of less-structured summer days.
Focus on each individual child and plan accordingly. No matter their age, it’s best not to force camp on kids who might do better waiting a year or two.
If they do want to go, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Does your child make friends easily?
- Is/are he/she/they independent-minded?
- How does your child handle other events without you?
- What personality traits might help indicate your child’s possible level of success at summer camp?
- Does your child do better in small groups, large groups or one on one with others?
The answers to these questions will help you decide which camps might be the best fit for your child.
This age group generally thrives at all day summer camps. A full day camp allows kids to enjoy enrichment activities they can’t get at home or school. However, if an older child has a lot of daily activities, or their parents simply need a safe place with adult supervision for a few hours each day, half day camps may also meet those needs.
Popular camp activities for this age group include:
Kids gain independence at all day KTP camps. They make decisions and new friends while becoming more confident in themselves. Although they may experience moments where they miss their siblings or parents, they quickly recover with the help of caring instructors and other camp staffers.
If your child has never experienced day camp, you can do little things to ensure they’re comforted throughout the day. Include little notes in their lunch, pack familiar food, and allow them to fully discuss the day’s activities when they get home. Enlist your camp director’s help for more ways to make camp a fun and positive experience for your youngster.
Tweens and teens better focus and benefit from all day camps that align with their interests. This usually includes sports, visual or performing arts and STEM, where kids work on improving their athletic skills, talents and knowledge in subjects they want to know more about. They also appreciate challenges that build character and self-awareness.
Most kids this age enjoy social opportunities with friends. Full day summer camps with KTP provide this, plus learning opportunities that help set them up for the future and a safe place to hang out while parents work or run errands.
The Best Camps at Any Age
KidzToPros’ summer camps offer kids 4-14 unique experiences and character-building opportunities. We offer everything from sports to performing arts and robotics to coding. Whether half day summer camps or full day, kids enjoy finding adventure, learning new things and making lifelong friends.
When you feel your kids are ready, start with their interests, talk to other parents who’ve used our camps, and match your children to courses that fit their ages, abilities and personalities. Then sign up today to start making memories for a lifetime! PLUS, save $40 on all on-campus summer camps with code CAMP40!