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How To: Summer Camps
last updated:
Tue, 5/10/2011 2:49 PM

How do you know if your child is ready for overnight summer camp? We asked Thomas Hobson, director of Child Life at Le Bonheur, to address some of parents’ common concerns. Here’s what he had to say:

What are some key indicators that show your child is ready for camp?

As children get older, there a certain signs you can use to determine if your child is ready for an overnight camp. Look at how your child has done staying at a grandparent’s house for several nights or at sleepovers with friends. Try day camps first to see how well they handle the experience.  Listen for phrases like “I wish it would last longer.” If all else fails, ask your child. You might be surprised by her honesty.

How do you know if they are ready to sleep away from home?

Two big factors come to mind when thinking about children sleeping away from home: trust and safety. With a secure parent-child relationship, children will trust that their parent will come get them if something goes wrong. They should also feel safe where they are going. If you broach the topic of overnight camp, and your child begins to worry, know that it’s a normal reaction. You can talk about all of the positives of the experience (i.e. the fun, exciting things they’ll get to do). However, if your child shows strong worries, it may be better to wait.

What do I do if they get homesick?

It is completely normal for children to get homesick when away from home, and it can be tough on both the parents and the child. Most camps try to keep your little camper so busy that he or she barely has time to miss home. However, if you do get the homesick phone call, it is your chance to be strong. Listen to what your child is saying, and judge for yourself. If it sounds like a simple case of homesickness, ask him or her about all of the fun things they’re doing, keeping it focused on the positives. Do not cave in. This is an opportunity for your children to develop a sense of independence. When the time comes for you pick them up, all they’ll be able to talk about is all of the fun they had.

What are the benefits of summer camp?

There are numerous benefits to summer camp, and two jump out immediately. The first is the sense independence your child develops. This is an experience that is all their own, and it helps to realize that there are a lot of other things that they can do independently. The second is the sense of accomplishment they gain. It may be a new game or skill they learned, or cooking over a camp fire. The most important part is the feeling of accomplishment, and the pride that it brings.

What's a good age to start going to overnight camp?

All kids are different, so there’s no perfect age. In my experience, around 6 or 7 years old are the best ages to give overnight camp a try. Check with various camps because many of them offer a shortened camp that lasts several days, instead of an entire week. This is a good opportunity for your child to get the experience and have something to look forward to the next summer.

Test Taking Tips
last updated:
Thu, 10/14/2010 10:01 AM

Parents and students are in the thick of test taking and the preparation that goes along with that. We found some tips from kidshealth.org that we thought our parent and student followers would find helpful. Happy test taking!

Do you sweat, chew your pencil, and feel butterflies in your stomach as your teacher hands out a test? A lot of people (adults included) get freaked out when it's time to take a test.

It's natural to feel some stress about taking tests. In fact, sometimes a little adrenaline (a hormone made by your body during times of excitement or stress) is a good thing to jump-start you.

 

  • First, be sure you've studied properly. It sounds like a no-brainer, but if you're sure of the information, you'll have less reason to be worried.
  • Get enough sleep the night before the test. Your memory recall will be much better if you've had enough rest. In a scientific study, people who got enough sleep before taking a math test did better than those who stayed up all night studying. 
  • Listen closely to any instructions. As the teacher hands out the test, be sure you know what's expected of you.
  •  Read the test through first. Once you have the test paper in front of you, read over the entire test, checking out how long it is and all the parts that you are expected to complete. This will allow you to estimate how much time you have for each section and ask the teacher any questions. If something seems unclear before you start, don't panic: ask. 
  • Focus on addressing each question individually. As you take the test, if you don't know an answer, don't obsess over it. Instead, answer the best way you can or skip over the question and come back to it after you've answered other questions.
  • Relax. If you're so nervous that you blank out, you might need a mini-break. Of course you can't get up and move around in the middle of a test, but you can wiggle your fingers and toes, take four or five deep breaths, or picture yourself on a beach or some other calm place. As we all know, it can be easy to forget things we know well — like a locker combination. The difference is we know we'll remember our locker combination because we've used it hundreds of times, so we don't panic and the combination number eventually comes back. During a test, if you blank out on something and start to get tense, it suddenly becomes much more difficult to remember.
  • Finished already? Although most teachers will let you hand a test in early, it's usually a good idea to spend any extra time checking over your work. You also can add details that you may not have thought you'd have time for. On the other hand, if you have 5 minutes until the bell rings and you're still writing, wind up whatever you're working on without panicking.

 

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Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center is a leading children's hospital in the Mid South, providing pediatric care to children from 95 counties in six states.
50 N. Dunlap Street, Memphis, Tennessee 38103 • (901) 287-KIDS