Dear Boston Mamas: Summer Camps

american-camp-association.jpgToday's Dear Boston Mamas question comes from Valerie via Twitter:

Dear Christine, do you have any summer camp recommendations for a day long camp with an educational component (reading + math) for a 6-year-old? I am right in the city. Thank you!

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Dear Valerie,

Thanks for writing in! Here are some thoughts:

1. I recommend you start by visiting the American Camp Association - New England website. The camps included in the database are accredited, and with the camp finding tool you can keep the search really loose (or drill down as much as you want). Just specifying "day camp," "Massachusetts," and "Academics" (under the Activity field) generated 12 results, and of those, Beaver Summer Programs (Chestnut Hill), Boston Nature Center Day Camp (Mattapan), and Summer at Park (Brookline) would be the closest to Boston. Be sure to call the various locations to check on how much reading and math are included in the day.

2. MIT also offers a summer day camp database that includes approximately 450 summer programs in the Boston area and extending outward to Route 128 and beyond. Note, however, that the included programs have not been screened to meet a standard for inclusion (the way that camps in the ACA database must be accredited). So if you find leads through this database, just be sure to check them out thoroughly.

3. If you are looking for a focus on math, a friend of a friend recommended the Russian School of Mathematics in Newton. However, it looks like the summer program classes meet 1-2 times per week; it's more of a summer tutoring program than a day camp but I thought it warranted mention in case your child has specific math needs for the summer or down the road.

4. If you're having trouble finding a camp that incorporates enough math and reading, I suggest finding a day camp that you otherwise love, then encouraging reading and math at home. For reading, visit your local library regularly, read books together (sometimes Laurel and I alternate pages and other times she reads the book in makes for fun cuddle time where she gets to practice reading). Also, if your child likes playing on the computer, he/she could explore online material, such as PBS's recently launched free online service called Ready to Learn (it's part of their PBS KIDS Raising Readers national literary campaign and is funded by a grant from the US Department of Education). The site is for ages 6+ and focuses on building reading skills.

5. Finally, for math development: contributing writer (and educator) Sheri wrote a great post on encouraging math moments in everyday experiences. And if you want something more traditional and classroom-like, I found these free math worksheets you can print out at Math Worksheet Wizard. Laurel loves worksheets so I'll be printing some of these for her to work on this summer.

I hope this information is helpful. Good luck with your camp search Valerie!

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Image credit: American Camp Association - New England

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Have a question for Christine? Drop her a line! And of course feel free to comment in if you have recommendations beyond those made above.