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Attending Camp with Friends

One of the many reasons behind sending children to summer camp is the opportunity to reach out and create new friendships. Does it mean sending a child to a camp which is also being attended by one (or more) of the child’s current friends should be discouraged? Absolutely not!

Added Advantage

Social interaction definitely comes easier for some children. A child attending a camp with a friend will already start the new journey with less stress. There is no doubt children get past the initial stage fright of making new acquaintances, but having a friend at the same camp  can actually make it easier for social interaction with other children.

Make New Friends

When parents agree to send a child along with a friend to camp, they should approach it in a proactive manner. Let the child know it is great to have a buddy along for the camp experience, but also instill an additional mindset – one which lets the child know it is perfectly acceptable to reach out to new children socially and discover new friendships. The parents of all your child’s friends going to camp should get together and talk about this as well. This prevents an instance of one friend having thoughts of abandonment when the other child makes new friends during camp. It allows all parents to reinforce the idea of making the most out of new friendship opportunities.

Keep the Old

Even though parents may have addressed the issue of a friend making new friends at camp, take the opportunity to make your child be aware of what to do if the ‘old’ friend feels left out. Many children would already have the presence of mind to include an old friend in an unscheduled activity, but it is always best to have parents mention this to their children. Most camps are monitored in a way where exclusion is noticed by a counselor or coach, but not everything is always noticed.

Enjoy the Camp

Depending on the camp, friends may automatically be separated in activities for various reasons. For instance, two friends attending a baseball camp may be assigned different stations or drills due to playing different positions, or by skill level of each child. Explain to children that this is to be expected and how the friends can meet up again at lunch or at another time during the camp day.

With a bit of careful pre-planning by the parents, the children attending camps with one or more friends will have the satisfaction of knowing others from the start, and parents will see such desired goals as decision making, peer social interaction and a sense of fulfillment achieved through the camp experience.

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The Importance of Scheduling in Free Play

Today’s parents – and kids – are busy, busy, busy. There are schedules to be followed, clubs to be attended, and homework assignments to be completed. But free play is important too, so how can you schedule some in?

Being a parent isn’t easy. In fact, at times it can be downright difficult. You want the best for your kids, you want them to grow up happy and confident and you want them to look back on their childhood with a sense of wonder. Experts often stress the importance of free play, but how can you allow for it in the modern world?

When you’re busy ferrying your kids around their after-school activities and clubs, it can be almost impossible to find the time to spend doing nothing. If you work long hours and want to soak up as much time with your kids as possible, you may find the weekends fill up pretty quickly too.

The Benefits of Free Play

There are many benefits to letting your kids take the lead for a little bit. Free play means that kids are free to play whatever and however they want. There are no rules, they don’t have to play in a certain way, and they can change what they are doing as often as they like. Free play allows children to develop a sense of independence, to develop problem-solving skills, and to learn  valuable skills which prevent boredom. If done in a group, free play allows your child to hone their social skills, to learn about conflict resolution, and to perfect negotiation skills.

3 Tips for Scheduling in Free Play

Now you know why it’s important, let’s look at how exactly you can fit free play into your lives:

1. Make it Routine

It sounds almost counter-productive, doesn’t it? Scheduling in free play surely isn’t free play? After all, if it’s scheduled, it can’t really be free. Well, yes, actually, it can. And if the rest of your week runs to a tight schedule, you might need to schedule in free play. And that’s fine. By including free play as a part of your regular routine, you give this important activity the time and commitment necessary. You could schedule free play for a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon or take a night off from your commitments each week to indulge in some free play. Whenever you decide to do it, make it routine.

2. Do it with Friends

Kids love free play, they can get completely and utterly immersed in a totally made up world with their friends. And, whilst the kids are distracted, you can enjoy some time with your friends as well. You can be anywhere you want to be, a local park on a glorious summer day, bundled up in raincoats in a woodland forest in the pouring rain, or in the comfort of your own home. Let the kids go wild whilst you catch up with your friends. Time well spent.

3. Encourage it

Kids are easily distracted. You ask them to go outside and play, then stumble across them inside 30 minutes later engrossed in a game of pirates. It can be frustrating, but try to remember the benefits of free play. Of course, there is a time and a place for everything, and your new found love of free play is no excuse for being late for school. That said, however, if you have nowhere to be, allow your child to embrace free play.

Do your kids get to enjoy free play time each week?