Preschool kids are both wonderful and filled with wonder. They greet the world with inquisitive attitudes, wide eyes and welcoming smiles. As enthusiastic learners, curiosity leads kids of this age to explore their surroundings. Like budding scientists, they observe the world with their senses. They boast a sense of pride and accomplishment when they do something new. “I can do it myself,” is often a phrase that begins to enter their vocabulary around this time as they set out to take on the world for themselves for the first time.
The preschool years are the time when the brain is most susceptible to growth in response to life experiences. The foundation laid during this crucial period supports all future learning, and a small input can yield big results. With so much brain growth occurring before formal schooling even begins, it is important to ensure that kids receive nutritious helpings of enriching activity during this critical time. Choosing an awesome preschool summer camp is a great way to provide the type of fun, imaginative play that preschoolers crave and that will also have a positive effect on their brain development.
Feeding Inquisitiveness with Imaginative Play
When searching for the ideal summer camp for your preschooler, start with play. Play is the primary occupation of young children and the venue in which much early learning takes place. They are imaginative, capable of fantasy and intrigued by role play. As parents, we do our best to ensure that kids have a variety of rich experiences that nurture that need for active play. The best summer day camps provide an excellent opportunity to unplug and engage in the enriching, creative type of play kids need to learn and grow.
Whereas toddlers engage in parallel play, in close proximity but without a lot of interaction, four- and five-year-olds are ready for cooperative play. This developmental stage sees the emergence of sharing toys and taking turns—the beginning of self-regulation skills. The variety of organized and unstructured play experiences in a typical camp schedule provides an excellent opportunity for kids to negotiate this milestone. Practicing these social skills at camp extends socialization beyond just camp and family dynamics; it also serves as an effective precursor to school, team sports and social situations.
Tips to Ease Apprehension
Sometimes preschool kids may be fearful or reluctant to attend camp. If it is their first organized activity, planning will help them adjust to the challenge. To avoid morning frenzy, it’s wise to prep everything the night before. Lay out clothes, put everything in the backpack and pack a lunch so all that’s left to do in the morning is eat breakfast and go.
Kids crave structure; stick to a routine. On the way to camp, talk through the day to come and run through their favorite activities. To ease any separation anxiety, remind them of who will pick them up and when. If you sense uneasiness, help your little one set some goals for the day: try to make two new friends today or create some art that mom or dad can hang in their office or on the refrigerator. Tell them you will look forward to a full report at the end of the day. Many parents report that after the first day or two, their kids are jumping out of bed in the morning to get ready for camp, and any previous reservations are quickly forgotten.
Introduction to an Innovator's Mindset
Kids in this age group embrace life, and with a bit of imaginative persuasion, are willing to resolve conflicts and try new things. They are at the perfect age for an introduction to an innovator’s mindset. The characteristics needed to promote change and make the world a better place are there, waiting to be developed. Kids can envision a better way and work together to make it happen. They can be supported to take risks and encouraged not to give up. They are capable of thinking back and learning from their experiences.
Camp G works to foster these skills and reflective abilities in kids, and one way that we love to do this is by bringing kids outdoors. Playing outside and exploring their environment are universal experiences enjoyed by kids around the world. Participating in outdoor play facilitates an appreciation for the environment and a conscience for environmental issues. It helps to establish a context for future learning. In addition to plenty of outdoor fun, day camp provides an opportunity for hands-on science exploration, giving kids the chance to be problem solvers. A variety of engaging media support daily creative expression.
The Importance of Daily Debriefing
After a full day of fun and fresh air, preschoolers will be exhausted. Plan some quiet time so they can catch their breath. A preschool summer camp will bring new experiences and new vocabulary. Encourage your child’s language development by engaging them in conversation about their day. Be prepared for enthusiasm. As an emerging authority, young children like to share what they have learned. Let them take the lead, and be ready to participate in new games and new routines. As kids acquire new skills, allow them to exercise their independence and practice with your support. This will help them expand and transfer their talents to new situations.
Kids will most likely be eager to share the details of their day. If not, here are some questions to get the conversation started:
- What games did you play today? Who played with you?
- What happened when you tested your project/experiment today? What did you do to improve it?
- What was your favorite part of the day?
- Tell me about one new thing you tried today.
- Can you tell me about some of your early ideas for your project and how you finally decided on one?
- What did you have for lunch? Did you eat with anyone new?
- Was there something you did today that you have never done before?
Laying the Foundation for Brain Development
Preschool kids are delightful. They are fun-loving and humorous; their enthusiasm and openness are charming and their energy is contagious. These years represent a critical time for early learning and brain growth—it’s astonishing how much development occurs before kids even enter a formal classroom. Experiences during this period can set a solid foundation for the subsequent development of language, memory, emotions, behavior and motor skills.
A preschool camp, like Galileo, will provide valuable summer learning experiences to pre-K kids. Our innovation stars-in-training will have a blast while developing thinking and cooperation skills. Giving kids opportunities to create through visual arts, learn through science and grow through cooperative play, all the while practicing critical life skills, is an empowering way to spend summer vacation. They will come home tired but more ready than ever to take on the world. To learn more about Galileo, sign up for our email list or contact us with any specific questions. Camp registration for summer begins in January.