If you are looking for a sign to start your search for summer care, here it is!
At Child Care Answers, we have been busy finding ways to support you. Last year, we shared four tips for finding a quality summer program, and they certainly still hold true. This year, we partnered with the Indiana Afterschool Network (IAN) to take a deeper look at quality in summer programs.
What should families look for in a quality summer program?
It is important to note that Indiana has a quality rating system for child care programs known as Paths to QUALITY. Child care programs that offer summer care or camps can choose to be a part of this. However, because options for summer programing extend beyond child care, Indiana Afterschool Network provides us with additional markers of quality.
To start, families should look for learning opportunities in their summer camp or care options. According to Derrick Carnes, director of communications at IAN, “All youth can benefit from some sort of enrichment opportunity to help maintain their learning gains from one school year to the next, and there are benefits to be gained from all types of summer learning opportunities. Summer learning can be anything from a weekly chess or robotics club, to a play-based day camp, to a months-long summer camp retreat. You’ll want to select opportunities that will keep your child engaged, interested, and growing all summer.”
As you are choosing your camp or summer care, Derrick urges families to remember that your program should reflect the needs of your family and interests of your child. For the most part, indicators of quality and learning will also depend on the age of your child. Below are age-appropriate qualities to look for in a program.
Ages Five through Ten
- Opportunities for individual interactions with adults
- Quiet areas, as well as noisy areas
- Outside experiences
- Imaginative play opportunities
- More routine and structure
Ages 10 through 14
- More connections to real-world experience
- Opportunities to serve others
- Opportunities for decision-making and leadership
- Opportunities to explore individual interests
- Opportunities for more project-based learning
Ages 15 through 18
- Opportunities to explore post-secondary education options
- Opportunities to serve others, contribute to a community, or mentor/tutor younger students
- Opportunities to explore subjects more in-depth
- Opportunities to work in small or large groups
- Opportunities to show competence in a public setting
What resources are available to families as they search for quality summer care?
- Child Care Answers is here to help! We have the ability to search licensed, high quality child care programs that have care options for your school-ager. Connect with us.
- Indiana Afterschool Summer Learning Standards are a tool used traditionally by summer programs to evaluate their own content and quality. They can be a handy resource for families, too!
- The National Summer Learning Association is a national, non-profit organization invested in using summer learning to help close achievement gaps. They have a parent-toolkit to support families.
- The American Camp Association is a community of camp professionals who join together to share knowledge and experience in creating high-quality summer enrichment opportunities. They have resources on state laws and regulations for camps.
Looking for a summer camp? Check out one of these community lists.
- Indy’s Child Indianapolis Camps & Summer Programs Virtual Camp Fair – Virtually explore Indy’s Child top summer camp options. To learn more, in person, consider attending their Summer Camp Fair on Saturday, February 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Indianapolis Art Center.
- Easterseals Crossroads – Learn more about quality camps for children and adolescents with disabilities.
- Indianapolis Area Summer Camp Programs for Kids – Scroll through Indy with Kids’ list of summer camp options in Indianapolis.
- Indy Summer Learning Labs – Learn more about academic, summer programs with enrichment opportunities across Indianapolis.
- 4-H – Find your local 4-H program and learn more about their summer opportunities.
- Local parks and recreation departments – Explore day camp options at your local parks & recreation.
Staying home this summer? Child Care Answers is here with some tips for summer activities!
- Fun is an important ingredient to summer success. Visit our Family Fun resource page to create memories with your children this summer.
- Continue learning at home this summer. Visit our STEM, math, and literacy play and learning pages to grow together at home!