Preparing your child for sleep away summer camp
By Melissa Brodsky
We may just be coming up on spring break, but summer is just around the corner, and now is the time when many families are signing their kids up for summer camp.
If your child is ready to try sleep-over camp, he — and you! — may be a bit fearful, but with a lot of encouragement and talks, the experience can be wonderful.
Prepare your child for a great sleep-away camp experience with these tips:
- Practice sleeping away from home. Have sleepovers at friends’ or relatives’ houses. The more used to sleeping away from you, the better prepared your child will be.
- Inspect the camp’s website together. Point out all the fabulous activities your child is in store for.
- Involve your child in shopping and packing for camp.
- Make sure your child knows how to change a bed, shower and do all the basic daily chore-type activities.
- Create a new bedtime routine, one that is more self-motivated if the child is still too dependent on parental guidance.
- Let your child know she will receive letters and care packages throughout her stay at camp. Consider sending letters early so they are waiting for your child upon arrival to camp.
- Your child should be aware that feeling homesick is normal and it will pass. It will usually only last the first few days.
- Keep yourself in check. Your child will sense your nervousness and will internalize it.
- Teach your child to address envelopes. Also consider pre-stamping and addressing some for convenience.
- Encourage your child to read age-appropriate books about kids going away to sleep-over camp. Check out this list for some great books about summer camp.
- Pack a few of your child’s favorite small items such as a stuffed animal or toy. Also, send with your child a couple of family photographs — they can be very comforting.
- Do not make any “pick up” deals. Your child will always have that in mind and won’t adjust as easily knowing calling you to come home is an option.
- Bribing kids to go away to camp is never a good idea; it’s an experience not a chore.
- Most importantly, let your children know you have confidence in them and you are sure they will have a great time at camp.
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