There are many ways to keep your gifted child stimulated and entertained during the summer. Major things to consider are your child’s age and interests. In addition, depending upon your work situation you may need to figure out if you want or need to have your child in a full day program. And depending on your financial situation you may need to investigate affordability. I will primarily explore age and interests. I believe that once a parent considers these two major things in making a list of promising programs, then the parent can eliminate any programs that would be cost-prohibitive or just too difficult to fit in with work schedules.
For very young children, no matter how smart they are, it is important for them to be in an environment that affirms their age and development. For example, just because your four year old daughter can read chapter books does not mean she is ready for an all-day, seminar style program where she is expected to be still and quiet all day. Because of this, when considering a program a parent should consider whether there will be frequent breaks for young children. Conversely, an older child may resent breaks and want to be able to fully immerse himself in a robotics project or something similar. Be sure to find out the format and schedule of the program you are evaluating for your child.
With format in mind, think about what interests your child. Is he or she happiest when in motion or being still? Does your child like to use her hands or observe things? Does your child enjoy music or sports? There are many camps that have a variety of options. You could send your child to a camp that focused solely on one thing – such as soccer camp. Or, you could send your child to an all day camp where there are different activities throughout the day.
For example, my two daughters are in a summer camp this summer that has three “choice” blocks. For choice block A, the campers could choose, backyard science, or music theater. For choice block B, the campers could choose hip hop dance, beadworking, or chess. For choice block C, the campers could choose basketball, sketching, or robotics. Before and after the choice blocks are times when all the campers do activities together.
This type of camp offers me, a working parent, a full time format because I need to work. It is age appropriate for my kids, aged 6 and 8, in that it provides lots of breaks and snack times. The children aren’t expected to be still and quiet all day. However, they are engaged and busy so they are interested enough to focus their energies on their projects. In this way, my gifted children are stimulated in an developmentally appropriate way.
My children examine freshwater pond organisms under microscopes and truly at this young age have a better understanding of some aspects of biology I do. On the same token, like many young girls, they enjoy making and wearing bracelets and other jewelry and enjoy the jewelry making workshop. Also, they get to dance and move around ( and use up some of that boundless energy) in the hip hop dance class. At other times during the day they are reading, writing and doing math work.
It took me about 6 months to find this program that keeps my gifted children entertained, stimulated learning and happy this summer. But, it was worth the energy and I will definitely send them back again next year.