What should I look for when trying to find the perfect summer camp program for my child?

Child psychologists state that children who maintain some sense of a structured activity during the summer, like martial arts, do better in the initial months of the new academic school year. Martial arts training through the summer reinforces a time commitment and the necessity of practice; reminds students to follow through, and gives them the progressive environment they need to reinforce skills they’re learning, which in turn strengthens their retention of academic knowledge.

Making Summer Count is a research project conducted by the Wallace Foundation with the intention of understanding how summer programs can boost learning. The authors cite the following as the most important components of a successful summer learning program:

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Differentiated instruction
  • High-quality instruction
  • Aligned school year and summer curricula
  • Engaging and rigorous programming
  • Maximized participation- and attendance-sufficient duration
  • Involved parents
  • Evaluations of effectiveness
     

Therefore, these components are what you should look for in a summer program, whether it’s an academic camp, a daycare camp or, even better—though I may be a bit biased—a martial arts summer camp.

When considering a successful summer martial arts program, you’ll need each of the components listed above. Classes should be smaller in summer camp, allowing for more individualized instruction. Instruction should be differentiated, or tailored, to each child’s personality and learning style, which naturally is influenced by instructor-to-child ratio.

Instruction should be high quality, meaning it must be done by skilled and highly motivated teachers.

School year and summer curricula must be aligned. This means they allow for seamless transition to, follow-through of, and connection to the previous and upcoming school year’s curricula.

Programming must be rigorous and engaging, thus yielding the goals you’re looking for! Engaging is the key word here–it has to be FUN.

Getting involved as a parent is crucial.

Maximized participation and attendance is achieved through individualized instruction, as well as the constant movement and participation provided by martial arts instruction, and finally, class time and availability.