Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 15, 2002
Learning while having fun
Education can still happen while families are on vacation
By RENATO GANDIA
"Camps should not be considered simply as babysitting."
- Janice Barton
"Camps should not be considered simply as babysitting. Find what the children like before sending them to one," she said.
Barton, who worked in a camp for seven years, stressed it is crucial to find a camp that offers what children are interested in before sending them there.
Recalling her camp days as a youngster, Barton shared her experience of visiting an old-fashioned camp where she learned how to make food the old-fashioned way, that is sans modern technology.
Even playing games during the time that there was no electricity was something that she learned from this kind of camp. "It was fun. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it."
If a child is not interested in attending a camp as a participant, there are leadership development training programs that students in Grades 6 and 7 can take.
Some camps operate for ages 12 and up. In camps like that they can take an active role and they can get involved in day camps with younger children as volunteers.
Trudelle's son Paul, 6 and a half, attended a day camp last summer. "He went to a day sports camp and he was introduced to a lot of interesting things that he brought home and was able to play with his younger sister."
"There are benefits to give them those opportunities but I don't personally believe that it should be a summer full of structure," Trudelle reiterated.
It is important for Lella Blumer "to make sure that her children are doing something constructive, that they are not just sitting in front of the TV or play station."
She agreed that camp is one option but there are a lot of choices for camps no matter what kind of financial situation parents have.
"Some of the day camps are great ideas, like the one at the Odyssium." Although that one is a bit pricey, Blumer believes those are a great idea because they are learning something too.
Outdoor camps are better choices in Blumer's view. "We have a very short summer and children have spent most of their time inside the classroom. So I think they need to be outdoors and enjoy as much as they can."
"Camps and programs that emphasize outdoor physical activities as well as a little bit of learning are probably the way to go."
Her son, Martin, who is in Grade 4, has been going to Our Lady of Victory Camp in Bentley, which runs for a week for different age groups.
Half of the summer Blumer brings her children to a day home. "I think the first thing is you have to make sure that they are somewhere where there is a responsible adult."
On the other hand, during the time school is off some students lose their reading ability. This can also be addressed during the summer.
Teachers suggest that parents should create an atmosphere that will encourage children to continue reading during the summer.
"If children read only during school, they will lose that reading ability during the summer."
- Lella Blummer
"I know that we tend to read only to the little (children) but not necessarily to older children. It's a nice opportunity to read to them whether it's a newspaper or a magazine. Read it together, you can read one page and let the child read another page and then you can discuss it."
They can also read novels but she cautioned not to go overboard and ask them to read for an hour like during school days. "Maybe 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon. But don't give them a whole pile all at once."
Stuart said, "Summer time reading pattern can help especially for the ones that need extra help."
He recommends that parents set a time aside. "So it might be before going to bed because they are still young enough to have a set bed time."
But parents can also check out and ask them to tell about what they have read.
Barton points to the public libraries. "One thing that parents can do is to get them a library card because that way they can avail themselves of the books they are interested in for free. Libraries have a wide collection of books that will interest children."
"There are really some good programs in libraries where children can participate. They can participate in reading treasure maps and mazes."
Parents can be directly involved too. The whole family can set a time that they visit the library, pick up books and sit down together and read.
"It's a wonderful way of promoting reading because everyone is doing it. When children see their parents read too, that can bring encouragement for them to do the same," Barton said.
Blumer doesn't have to worry that her children will lose their reading ability during the summer because they love to read.
"The ones who have the habit of reading on their own or having their parents read to them will carry on in some way or another during the summer.
"It may not be as regimented as during the school year, but if children read only during school, they will lose that reading ability during the summer."
Stuart pointed out one factor for spending summer responsibly. "It all depends on what the parents are doing.
Children are still dependent on their parents. If their parents are going on a vacation at that time, children go on vacation too. If their parents are working, other arrangements are made.
"A lot of what children can do during the summer still depends on the parents' discretion. So no matter what we tell them to do, like go to camps, go to this, it will be dependent on the parents' decision."
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