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Academics Camps Creative Arts Holiday Break Camps Music On-Demand Performing Arts Play/Outdoor School Breaks Science/Technology Seasonal Activities Sports

5 Reasons You & Your Kids Need Winter Camp

Here are a few great ways to validate the importance of camp during winter break. Make your dreams of attending a meeting or cooking dinner without interruptions come true too!

As a parent of two active boys, ages 6 and 8, I frequently consider adding “Rambunctious” and “ER” to their middle names. Needless to say, most school breaks create a sense of panic on how to keep them engaged and our home, now workspace zen.

With winter break around the corner, my survival mom goal is to end the year without any trips to the emergency room while my more thoughtful mom instincts urge me to make use of the time for learning experiences that the boys don’t get in the classroom.

Winter camp is amazing for five reasons.

 1. Get Progress Report Help

In pre-pandemic times, learning loss was mainly associated with the summer slide. Since the 2020 lockdown, helping kids catch up from the extended school closures has been both challenging and real for many families.

“We now share assessment data from this fall, which show that students, on average, started school about three months behind where we would expect them to be in mathematics. The picture for reading is more positive, with students starting school just a month and a half behind historical averages.”

McKinsey & Company’s “COVID-19 and Learning Loss”

You’ve seen your kids progress reports at this point, and hopefully they are doing ok. Winter is the second longest break after summer so it’s a good time to start closing any gaps with activities. Now’s the time to start supporting ongoing academic learning and social emotional development.

Learning doesn’t always require a textbook and worksheets. Exploring new experiences generally facilitates brain building, whether it’s concentrated in academics or enrichment.

2. Bring Home Thoughtful Holiday Gifts Created at Camp

Multi-task. Sign your kids up for Art, S.T.E.M. or Cooking classes that produce holiday gifts for loved ones. Playing is learning! Your kids get to experience a fun activity while acquiring new skills, you have one less person to shop for and you get a few hours of time to yourself. That’s a triple win.

Personally, this is one of my favorite options for winter camp. In past years, my older son enjoyed a jewelry making camp that produced necklaces with real clasps that were gifted to his two grandmas. My younger son did an art camp that generated many rolls of “abstract” paintings, perfect for gift wrap. 

3. Convert High Energy Kids to Tired Kids

The benefit of living in California during winter is that our version of cold (50°-60°F) is the rest of the country’s idea of perfect weather. Explore a new sport or revisit an old favorite to keep your house from looking like an indoor tornado recently visited. 

Invite your kid’s besties, so it becomes a play date and you can just drop them off. Your kids will have the opportunity to make new friends, too.

This upcoming winter break, we searched for camps that could help the kids stay active and outside. Their current interests are soccer and basketball, so finding a place that returns them to us tired was the only other prerequisite.

4. Find COVID Conservative Support

For families who remain at home, creating your own personalized camp has never been easier! Attend live Online and On-Demand activities from anywhere. There are academic classes to help with tutoring support. There’s also really fun opportunities to just attend a virtual dance party, music or Minecraft classes. Mix and match the options to your kid’s interests.

This is also a great way for COVID Conservative friends to stay connected with friends both near and far that they haven’t been able to see in person.

5. Give Yourself a Break

At the height of the pandemic, I was on a video call for work while my kids were quietly playing amongst themselves. It all seemed so normal, until the staircase in my background was suddenly filled with a river of stuffed animals rolling downward. A “rain” of Nerf ammo followed for the dramatic conclusion. Every parent at home working remotely with kids during this time has a version of this story. While it is hilarious now, it’s also not something we want to relive.

Parent’s getting time for themselves is a good thing. Sign your kids up for camp. Keep calm and carry on.

Scholarships are also available for families in need.

Make Planning Easy

Do you need to coordinate camps and carpools with friends? Juggling a camp schedule with multiple children is like playing a real life game of Tetris. Save time and plan the ultimate camp experience on ActivityHero with your child’s classmates, teammates, and neighbors with the ‘Invite Friends” feature! 

Discover more kid-approved camp options now enrolling for winter camps and classes at ActivityHero, a marketplace of offerings near you in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County. Plus, earn bonus reward points when you download ActivityHero’s iOS app for faster and easier searching!

DNA designed with candy from Su Yun’s Chinese Learning Center.

Written by Tabetha Chau, a mom of two boisterous kiddos in Oakland. She helps out on the ActivityHero marketing team. In her spare time, she also catches Pokémon and tries to learn Mandarin with her family.

Categories
Cooking Creative Arts

2 Unique Christmas Activities to Make With Your Kids






Here are two unique and simple Christmas activities you can make with your kids today — that won’t take all day. Easy peasy.

Reindeer Cookies

  • Refrigerated sugar cookie dough (pre-made or store bought)
  • Bag of chocolate chips
  • Jar of cinnamon candies (or anything red and small)
  • Packet of small pretzels
Instructions

Pick up a package of pre-made, refrigerated, sugar cookie dough from the store (or make your own recipe). Divide the cookie dough into one inch balls and shape into a peanut shape with the head portion slightly larger.

Don’t smash these shapes down too much or the cookies won’t rise!

It’s now time to place chocolate chips for the eyes, bite off the ends of pretzels so the center can be used for the antlers and lastly, add a cinnamon candy for each of the noses.

Finally, wrap up in plastic bags with some ribbon. And voila, you’ve got the cutest holiday cookies ever!

Reindeer Christmas Sugar Cookie

Pine Cone Ornaments

  • 6 Pine cones from your yard
  • Silver acrylic paint from your local craft store
  • Paint brush
  • 1 ½ inch wide silver ribbon
  • Rounded silver string
Instructions

First, clean your pine cones of debris and lightly wash off dirt. Leave them out to dry for an hour (make sure they’re totally dry).

Then, use your paint brush and add silver paint to the tips of the pine cone. Do this sparingly for a more organic effect. Let them dry.

Next, tie silver string around the end of the pine cone. Create a bow with your ribbon and glue in front of the string. Let them dry, again.

Hang these new pine cone ornaments on your Christmas tree and enjoy for years to come!

Gold Tipped Pinecon Ornament

Need more procrastinator friendly options to keep your kids engaged and learning this upcoming school winter break? Enjoy more Christmas activities and other holiday inspired fun on ActivityHero.com today.

Categories
Parenting Resources Super Activities for Super Kids

5 Table Manner Tips for Kids at Thanksgiving

Family using phones at breakfast

Here are some simple tips to help encourage good etiquette and dinner table manner with your kids.

It’s a common time of year to reflect on everything you’re grateful for with friends and family. In addition to being thankful, here are some quick table manner tips to use at Thanksgiving dinner this year (and everyday) with your kids.

Depending on your kid’s age, the range for how established their dining etiquette is will vary. With that said, the bigger focus is that everyone arrives at the table with a positive attitude.

Table Manner Tip #1: Practice Patience

Always wait until everyone has received their food before you start eating. The host will usually make an announcement, “Let’s eat!” or say, “thank you” to the guests. 

Table Manner Tip #2: Be Present

Leave all devices and other distractions away from the table. Focus on connecting and trying to hold thoughtful conversation.

Table Manner Tip #3: Use Please & Thank You

Please and thank you should be at the beginning and conclusion of any requests. “May I have more mashed potatoes, please?” Followed up with, “Thank you!” This simple effort helps to support common courtesy.

Table Manner Tip #4: Pass Politely

If something you dislike is handed to you, simply and politely say, “No, thank you,” and pass it on to your neighbor. Comments like, “Yuck!” and “Gross!” should be kept to yourself.

Table Manner Tip #5: Find More Patience

Dinner is done when the table has been cleared. Enjoy your food and the company while waiting for the official end of the meal.

Bonus: Clean up after yourself or ask to help with any cleanup tasks. It’s a nice act of kindness to offer the host help. It’s also generally always appreciated.

Quick Tip: Which bread or drink belongs to you in a place setting? Use your left and right hands to form the letters, b and d (pictured above). Left is for b-bread and right is for d-drink.

Good manners build confidence and are a life skill kids will continue to use as adults. And remember that sometimes it’s the journey and not the destination, especially for the smaller kids. It won’t be a perfect Thanksgiving dinner, but preparing them with these lessons will serve them well in the long run.

For more lessons in manners and etiquette, find classes on ActivityHero from our friends at The Etiquette Factory by Miss Kim and Lady V’s Finishing School.

Read more Thanksgiving related activities:

5-Minute Fall Crafts for Kids

8 Great Holiday Activities You Can Do With Your Kids

Categories
After-School Activities Camps Creative Arts On-Demand Online Learning

Parent Power: Importance of Art Education for Kids

featuring Young Art

Many schools are shifting to emphasize the core subjects like reading and math. Because of this, enrichment programs (i.e. art) are getting left behind. And while some believe art education amounts to just basic finger painting or coloring books, shifting this mindset for future generations is key.

Join us for a brief but informative chat with Ginhee Rancourt, CEO and Founder of Young Art

In this podcast, the importance of art for kids is discussed. How does art spark innovative problem solving? What does the future of design thinking behold? Answers to these questions (and more) are also covered.

Simple activities that support creativity and teach an appreciation of art contribute to your kid’s development right now with many added future benefits.

Did you know? Kids involved in art are:

4x more likely to be recognized for their academic achievement

4x more likely to participate in a math and science fair

3x more likely to win an award for school attendance

Americans for the Arts and Vans Custom Culture

Our Podcast Guest

Ginhee Rancourt founded Young Art and over the past seven years has worked to provide communities with a vibrant outlet for creativity as a children’s drop off art studio, activating experiential spaces in shopping centers and online. Making art enrichment and education accessible to kids is at the core of their values.

Discover more art classes, camps, and activities for your child at ActivityHero.com

Categories
Gaming Online Learning

3 Ways to Celebrate National Video Games Day

Celebrate National Video Games Day on September 12th. While the date and origin of this holiday are unclear, many Americans have decided to designate this day for video games. Why pass up the opportunity to celebrate with them? Here are three ways to enjoy honor this holiday.

  1. Play from home.

Take a cue from gamers all over the world in 2020. Last year, millions turned to video games to have fun and stay connected during the pandemic. According to MarketWatch, video games became a bigger industry than film and North American sports combined due to the pandemic.1 

  1. Go old-school. 

While video games are now dominated by at-home gaming consoles like the XBox or Playstation, now is a great time to revisit the classics. Gather friends and visit an arcade to bask in the nostalgia of timeless games like Pac-man, Space Invaders, and Pong. 

  1. Create with your favorite video games. 

Games like Minecraft, Roblox, and Animal Crossing have exploded again in popularity this year. These games all have something in common: the creative element. Within these games, players have the freedom to create their own mini-games, whether it’s roleplaying, designing your own worlds, or even coding your own add-ons. Collaborate with other players to use video games as a creative outlet, or even learn to code your own games! 

Need more ideas? Check out ActivityHero to find creative and educational classes for video games and coding. 


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Categories
Online Learning Parenting Resources Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

10 Tips To Make the Back to School Transition with Your Kids Easy

The seasonal change from summer to fall for you and your family can be overwhelming. Here are some quick tips to help make the transitional period more smooth (and even a little fun) for everyone.

1. Bike, walk, or scooter to school.

If you live nearby, beat the morning traffic by walking, biking, or scootering to school together. Start the morning with some exercise and burn some energy before getting to the classroom.

Quick Tip: Find neighbors and classmates to walk with to make it fun both before and after school! 

2. Keep a checklist on the door. 

Create a picture “checklist” on your kid’s door to review before school each morning: brush your teeth, make your bed, check your backpack, get your shoes on, feed the dog, etc. It’s really helpful in building personal responsibility and will minimize your having to say reminders like, “put your shoes on!” a hundred times.

Download our checklist >

3. Wear school clothes to bed. 

Here’s a hack not many people think of! For younger kids or kids who are especially slow in the morning, put on your school clothes the night before. As long as the clothes are comfortable to sleep in, your morning routine will be faster with one less step. Forget about pajama tops and have kids sleep in the t-shirt that they are going to wear to school.

Quick Tip: This works really well in pre-school and before kids could dress themselves.

4. Keep a common calendar.

Make sure everyone knows what’s happening each day. Keep a calendar or schedule somewhere where everyone can see it easily, like on the fridge or the front door. Plan out lunch schedules, after-school activities, and special school projects. Use post-it notes or a whiteboard calendar to easily make changes and add reminders.

Quick Tip: For older kids, have a family calendar on your phone that you can all update!

5. Separate pre-packed bags for after-school activities. 

Do your kids have a jam-packed after-school schedule? Save time by packing go-bags the night before and leaving them in a designated spot, whether that’s at the front door or in the car. If you have time in the mornings, you can add snacks to this go-bag and make the scramble of afternoon activities so much smoother. 

6. Let your kids choose their own school supplies. 

You may be tempted to shop alone and save yourself the trouble of searching for supplies with your kids there. However, bringing your kids along will help them organize their belongings independently and increase the chance that they’ll use all their supplies.

“They’ll be more excited about using the cool stuff they get to pick out.”

Marcella Moran, PhD, coauthor of Organizing the Disorganized Child 

7. Use a portable homework station.
Once you have your supplies sorted, make a caddy or use a wheeled cart to organize all your supplies at home. Easily bring all your supplies between rooms or on the go.

Quick Tip: For DIY options, use a muffin tray to organize small objects or arrange old tins and cups to hold your writing utensils. 

8. Have your kids make their own lunches. 

Let kids choose their own lunches, and they’ll be more likely to finish their meals every day. This is a great way to teach your kids how to be independent and start choosing their food for themselves. To make sure they’re still getting the right nutrients, have a designated food drawer or refrigerator section that you fill with the dairy, proteins, veggies, fruits, and grains that they need! Designate a space in your refrigerator or pantry for your kids to easily reach their snacks for self-service.

Quick Tip: Give your kids input on the weekly grocery list to better minimize food waste.

9. Start a file bin now.

Instead of waiting for the end of the year, start organizing finished projects and old handouts now! Decide which papers and projects are important to keep as they complete work during the school year. At the end of the year, the decluttering of old school supplies will be much easier. 

Quick Tip: Organize for easy access: separate between long-term storage, frequent use (like a times table), and short-term storage (like handouts for each unit).

10. Sign up for online after school classes. Online after school classes are a great option for busy students. Instead of being shuttled from activity to activity, kids can join live online classes from home. Get access to the best instructors and classes that are available nationwide and have fun working with friends in online groups. 

Create an account and profile for your kids to find personalized after school enrichment classes at ActivityHero.

Categories
Camps

Parent Power: Balancing Free Play, Screen Time & More!

featuring Nir Eyal

In this 2-part series, Peggy Chang, co-founder of ActivityHero chats with Nir Eyal about how to help kids, and their parents, be indistractable and in control of how much time is spent on screen devices because we all struggle with striking the right balance between screen time, homework, family time, chores, work and free play. 

In the first episode, we cover Nir’s research and his 4 strategies to help kids and adults avoid conflicts, especially battles over kids screen-time are covered in this discussion.

In the second episode, Nir shares his approach for scheduling Free Play and the Benefits of giving kids Autonomy, without giving kids unlimited access to screen devices.

Our Podcast Guest

Nir Eyal writes, consults, and teaches psychology, technology, and business. He is also the author of “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life”, a best-selling business book that is also on the top 10 list on Amazon’s School Age Parenting list. 

In addition to blogging at NirAndFar.com, Nir’s writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, Time Magazine, and Psychology Today.

As you plan your child’s schedule, visit ActivityHero.com for summer and school holiday camps, online classes, and on-demand activities for your kids all year long.

Categories
Camps

Parent Power: Bridging the Learning Gap + 3 Benefits of Tutoring

featuring The Teacher Marketplace

This past year has been unlike no other, especially for school-aged kids. Whether they attended school in-person or online, the school year was met with many challenges. The digital disparity is now evermore apparent. So as parents, how can we bridge the gap between everything that’s happened?

In this episode, we’re talking with The Teacher Marketplace, (TTM) an online platform connecting teachers and tutors with students and families for remote and in-person tutoring sessions nationwide.

3 Benefits of Tutoring

  1. Online tutoring benefits kids in academic performance, life aspirations, and even psychological health — much more than just learning loss prevention.

2. Students are 16% more likely to attend online classes regularly and 6% less likely to exhibit behavioral problems during the school day.1 

3. Tutoring is the most effective among earlier grades. However, it’s worth noting that reading generally yields higher results in earlier grades whereas math tutoring is more impactful in later grades.2

Our Podcast Guests

Ben Brogadir co-founded The Teacher Marketplace as a way to help teachers and families nationwide during the pandemic. As the father of two, he is focused on educating students safely and effectively, and firmly believes in equal access to tutors so that no child is left behind.

Chessa Kenney taught in New York City for 13 years before joining The Teacher Marketplace. An educator, parent of two, and is committed to making individualized educational experiences more accessible and efficient for families nationwide.

1Source

2Source

Discover classes, camps, and activities for your child at ActivityHero.com

Categories
Camps

New York Chess Academy: Voted #1 by Families Two Years in a Row

Celebrating NYCA in ActivityHero’s Best of 2021

Based on the number of votes, reviews, and overall ratings from families in 2021, New York Chess Academy is 1st Place in ActivityHero’s Best of 2021 Awards. This amazing business inspires a love of chess for all levels and ages. 

New York Chess Academy (NYCA) organizes programs and services for all levels and ages. ActivityHero families love camps, after-school classes, private lessons, and tournaments held by NYCA!

“My five year old loves chess and loves coach Philip. We had trial class with another school before we had our trial with coach Philip and from the first minute I knew he was amazing and NYCA is the right choice. My son is learning so fast and the coach is able to keep his focus on an hour long zoom class. The price per class is far less than what you will find at other schools. Just have a trial class and if your child shows interest so not hesitate to sign them up for classes. Chess is amazing and the coaches at NYCA are wonderful.”

Parent Review – Chess for Ages 3-5 Years

“The instructor is really great! He not only teaches chess skills but also enjoys chess and chat with kids. He also take care of interests with different ages and levels of kids.”

Parent Review – PAWNS Online Group Class

“My daughter has been taking chess classes via zoom shortly after COVID began, we live in FL. Her cousin from NY also joined and they are having so much fun together. Coach Ivan is wonderful he takes the time to really get to know the kids. We will continue to enjoy these classes during the summer and fall.”

Parent Review
New York Chess Academy Kids Class
NYCA’s Mission

New York Chess Academy is determined to promote chess, in all its aspects, to all those interested in it. Through chess, kids can develop self-confidence, decision-making skills, friendships, and sportsmanship.

By offering its services at affordable prices, New York Chess Academy strives to ensure that chess, its undeniable benefits, and its welcoming community are accessible to all. It is this drive to provide equal opportunities that distinguish New York Chess Academy in the field of chess.

NYCA Staff

New York Chess Academy is an organization formed by a group of chess enthusiasts and friends to promote chess and provide knowledge, experience, and assistance to everyone interested. Programs and services include camps, after-school classes, private lessons, and tournaments.

New York Chess Academy believes that chess is fun and the real fun will only begin when you truly understand the game and you started loving it. Kids and adults alike love NYCA instructors and classes.

Find New York Chess Academy on ActivityHero >>

See All Best of 2021 Award Winners >>

Categories
Camps

Parent Power: Fostering a Lifetime of Curiosity Through Astronomy

featuring Look Up to The Stars

In this episode, we will talk about the most appealing science of astronomy and how exploring astronomy helps set your child up for a lifetime of curiosity and learning. Joining us today is Kevin Manning, award-winning astronomer and founder of Look Up to The Stars, a provider of astronomy camps and classes for kids of all ages. 

We love Look Up at The Stars on ActivityHero because Kevin’s mission is to generate interest and foster scientific literacy in students nationwide through the delivery of awe-inspiring, educational, and entertaining astronomy programs.  

Children of all ages can be inspired to think big, dream big, and foster curiosity about an enormous universe in which the boundaries appear unlimited. 

Find the best kids camps and activities including the awesome array of astronomy classes from Look Up to The Stars on ActivityHero.com

Categories
Camps

Parent Power: The Benefits of Science Camp

All about STEM featuring Destination Science

ActivityHero Parent Power is a new series dedicated to helping you discover smart solutions to finding kid activities. Whether you are in need of seasonal camps, after-school programs, or academic tutoring we are here to help you stay informed on all things kid activity-related. 

In this episode, we will talk about science camps, from a variety of STEM topics to the terrific skill set that your kids can learn from attending a science camp. Joining the episode is Nina Conway from Destination Science, a leading STEM camp provider for elementary school kids. 

We love Destination Science on ActivityHero because they believe “Science is a Way of Thinking!” When we know how to “do” science, we know how to be creative, critical, and organized thinkers and problem solvers.

Parents love that Destination Science’s fun-filled programs make positive, powerful differences in their children! Their programs are meticulously designed to use fun science as a tool to grow terrific skills for everyday life, including:

PERSISTENCE, COOPERATION, CREATIVITY AND ESPECIALLY…CURIOSITY!

You can check out Destination Science’s current summer camp offerings on Activityhero.com

Categories
Camps

Parent Power: First-Time Campers 101

What to Expect When Thinking for Your Child’s First Camp Experience

ActivityHero Parent Power is a new series dedicated to helping you discover smart solutions to finding kid activities. Whether you are in need of seasonal camps, after-school programs, or academic tutoring we are here to help you stay informed on all things kid activity-related. 

In this episode we will talk about first time campers 101: what to consider when thinking about introducing your child to their first camp experience. Our guest for this interview is Courtney Cimoli. She is the chief operating officer of Camp Edmo, the leading camp provider in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Sacramento regions of California with a multitude of school year programs and 32 on-site summer camp locations. 

You can check out their current summer camp offerings on Activityhero.com.

One of the reasons why we love Camp Edmo at ActivityHero is because they collaborate with leaders in the fields of Science, Maker Education and Social Emotional Learning to design a well rounded and diverse curriculum for their programs. 

Q: How do I know if my child is ready for summer camp?

A: All camps have different guidelines around that. for EDMO, they need to be potty trained and at least 4-years old. Any camp you are looking at, verify what age do they start at and what are the parameters that you child needs to meet to be able to join the camp. From there, once they are starting to develop curiosity over different theme areas, if there’s something they are excited about and can get engaged about, that’s the time for camp. If you notice they love dinosaurs, try dino-science camp to match it off of something they really enjoy. In general, if they love hands-on activities, this is a great time for them to start camp. It’s really great when you can do those DIY things at home with them but it’s a whole other level when they can get in there and experience with other kids, other adults, and counselors. Another thing to note, there is a little bit for every personality type. So you might think “my child is really outgoing! they are ready!” but camp is great for the more reserved campers too. It’s a place to practice those skills. They are going to have to be outside the home and practice [social] skills.

This is an environment where they don’t have to, they get to. For myself, I was that really great place for me where I got to go out and practice my social skill building. I got to be in new environments, in a way that was really engaging and exciting. [Camp] is great for all types of kids.

Q: What types of camps are best for a first-time camper? Should I pick something more general, like all-sports or all-fun? Or should I go for something more specialized?

A: It depends on your kid. Are they really motivated by a particular thing and want to attend a specialized camp? Some kids need more of a general interest level, they are both great. Both camps have awesome benefits. One thing I would pay attention to, regardless of if it’s general-interest or specialized is, “whats the additional stuff to their curriculum?”. Even if it’s specialized, there should be other aspects of the camp day. You want them to be singing songs, performing skits, having outdoor game time, having some sort of SEL or social skill bulding session where they are learning traits such as responsibility and initiative. So whether it’s a general-interest theme or specialized theme, make sure you’re getting a well-rounded package. That’s what is going to really engage your child and get the best out of camp.

Q: Do you have a lot for campers that take the same camp or type of camp for multiple weeks in the summer? Is it better to have a longer time frame for first-time campers?

A: I would recommend, picking a camp and sticking with one or two. Floating them to a different camp every week can sometimes make it difficult for them to get established when they are really just learning what camp is. Camp involves so much culture. You show up, you go here for your rally in the morning, you learn where your boundaries are, when you’re relearning that every week at a different camp in addition to getting used to the atmosphere of camp in general, that can be really overwhelming.

I recommend a camp that offers a variety of themes, so they can mix it up each week. So they can mix it up, but still attend the same camp. At EDMO, they can attend the whole summer but do a different theme each week. So you’re doing this over arching convept of maker or science but you’re doing other themes each week so they can stay really engaged. But the general outline and structure of the day is the same so that can really help them get settled in.

Kids come for 6, 8, 10 weeks and by the end, that’s their home. They end up helping new campers get involved.

Q: Should I register for camp with siblings or friends?

A: For siblings, unless they are really close in age and depending on how the camp does grouping, they will likely be separated. Make it easy on yourself, do one drop off and one pick-up, especially if the camp have a vareity of offerings, like EDMO does. So your kids can have very different interests but still find something engaging.

Coming with friends can be great, it can help them feel comfortable from the minute they get there, especially if your child is a little more reserved and needs that extra support. However, they don’t need to. Make sure that the camp you are signing up for is ready with techniques to help them get engaged, make new friends, at EDMO, the first thing we do Monday morning is you meet your group and we do Team-Love. They do icebreakers, they create a team name and get engrained as a group. So it doesn’t matter if they didn’t have a friend when they walked in the door, they will have an entire group of friends within 15-minutes of being there. And then throughout the day, we have a variety of techniques with our SEL curriculum. The counselors are trained to help them interact with others and make new friends. Don’t be worried, if you are sending your new camper without anyone they know.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add about how counselors bridge the gap for kid and/or parents?

A: We have Team-Love and SEL curriculum to help them make connections thorughout the day. One thing that helps the kids and the parents is distracting them the moment they get there. Naturally, the kids want to stay with the parent, that’s who they know, that’s what they are used to, so a really good counselor is going to help them distract away from those nerves. So the second you walk into camp, there is some sort of activity going on.

Staff members are always friendly and excited to see the kids. That’s going to help the camper and the parent make that transition the first day or any day they are there.

Q: What do you believe is the biggest challenge for first-time campers?

A: Drop off! AM Drop off! Time and time again it’s the biggest challenge for campers and parents. I can tell you as a parent myself, I am not looking forward to leaving [her] for the first time for a full-day. So it can be just as hard on the parent as the camper. One thing a recommend is drop them off, and leave. Staying just allows the child to build up more anxiety, get more and more upset. And when we see a quick drop-off, because we have other techniques, we have activities that are already going on, 5-minutes, the camper ready to go!

Q: What benefits do you believe summer camp offers children, above free play at home through the summer?

A;So many! That’s a really big question. The thing I love about summer camps as an extracurricular activity, camp does not expect your child to fit the mold in any way. Camp is for everybody. There is a little bit of everything and it’s about discovery of yourself within that. That’s why I have devoted my life and career to it, because that’s what summer camp did for me many years ago. I was very shy, afraid of my shadow type, that was able to really find myself and get comforatble at camp. So the benefit of taking them to this environment that is so inclusive and inviting, is huge.

Social interaction, trained professionals, that can help them learn responsibility and initiative. Can they learn these things at home? yes. It it the same as learning this from other adults, surrounded by their peers, no. That’s a very different experience. I think both are important, but summer camp can really have so many levels of value.

Q: When you are a new parent to signing up for summer camp, it can be overwhelming. What do you feel like are the most important questions for a parent to ask when they are researching camps?

A: Make sure the camp is well-rounded throughout the day. There are a lot of safety measures for 2021, but there is still a level of interaction. So make sure there are different parts of the day, with outdoor recreation, various games that include collaboration and team work. Don’t get so excited about one theme that you forget about the schedule of the full camp day.

With COVID, camps are doing things differently. That’s what I would really be watching for this year. Are they truly staying in a stable group? I’m not going to lie, especially in our industry that’s something that’s really difficult to enforce when we are going in and out of different periods throughout the day. At EDMO, we’ve been working tirelessly to make sure our COVID-19 protocols are across the board being followed by our campers and counselors. Stable groupd are crucial right now.

I would pay attention to the staff they are hiring, but I wouldn’t get too hung up on qualifications. Just because a staff memeber is a college graduate in a specicial field, don’t mean they are vibey. You want fun, interactive staff. I’ve see 16-year old counselors who have attended camp for year, be the strongest counselor out of a staff of people much older than them. It’s really about the culture the camp is creating, more so, on-paper resume qualifications.

Q: Last advice?

A: When signing up for camp, get your campers involved. let them read the descriptions and help pick the themes. It is going to be so much easier if they are excited for the program.

Camp is for everyone. Scholarships are available through ActivityHero and EDMO.

Explore your child’s camp options today.

Categories
Family

Are Smartphones Disconnecting Your Family?






ActivityHero providers are experts at getting kids to go (temporarily) off the grid. Here 6 of their tips to help your family welcome more tech-free time.

By Rachel Stamper

Tech is typically banned at school and during after school activities — and for good reason: Smartphones and tablets distract kids from instructional time. At bedtime, exposure to blue light from smartphones, tablets, computers, and the TV can actually make it tougher for kids and adults to fall asleep because the light they emit prevents the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. And with 20 digital devices in the average home, according to a recent Yahoo! poll, there are plenty of screens competing for your family’s attention. Left unchecked, all that screen time could affect your relationship with your children, the quantity and quality of sleep your family gets, and how engaged your kids are during the school day and at activities.

To get some help in corralling the tech, we reached out to a few ActivityHero providers who are experts on powering down kids’ smartphone usage — at least temporarily. Here, we offer their suggestions, along with our own research, to help you figure out the best times and ways to use a little less data each day.

1. Get an Old-School Alarm Clock

“Today too many people use their phones as alarms. That means it’s super-tempting to check your social media or favorite news sites right before you go to sleep,” says Ed Caballero, Executive Director of Camp Edmo, which offers high-quality enrichment programs in science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math. His suggestion: Leave your phone in another room to recharge at night, and use a regular alarm clock to rise in the morning. “It’s also a great to give your body a break from being close to that radiation for 6 to 10 hours a day,” he adds. A standard clock with a battery backup is just as reliable as a cell phone alarm.

Find Fun After School Activities Near You >>

2. Schedule Some Official “Silent Times”

Caballero also says, “You might have a hard time keeping the cell phone out of your child’s hand at all times. However, you can establish Silent Times like dinner, family gatherings, etc., when the phone is set to silent. When you don’t have the angst of wondering if your phone vibrated, pinged, or rang, you can actually be more present and conversational. By turning your phones to silent, you can focus on the people you’re with and check messages at socially appropriate times — when you’re alone later.” Whether it’s dinner at home, at a restaurant, or at a special event, if everyone powers down at the same time, there’s a sense of fairness. (Yes, that means us adults, too!)

3. Reframe the Conversation

Blake Longfellow, Co-owner and Director of UCamps, which provide fun, educational, arts, leadership, and outdoor enrichment programs, allows only counselors, not kids, to have cell phones. “When I promote the summer programs, kids always ask can they have their phones,” he says. “I reframe the conversation to remind them if they don’t have their cell phones, their parents can’t tell them what to do.” Kids can make their own choices, choose their own classes, decide who they “hang out” with, and get a break from “parental communication.” Rather than focusing on what you might miss by unplugging, talk about how you’ll be able to positively experience the world without a digital distraction.

4. Don’t Break Electronics Bans

Longfellow adds, “We have a no-phone policy for campers and it’s the parents that complain — 90 percent of the kids are okay with it. Some parents will try and sneak in a phone, but having a phone can foster homesickness. In previous years, 10 or 11 kids left camp each summer due to homesickness, but since we set a phone ban, no kids have asked to leave. Kids are more present and enjoy the time without a phone.” Promise yourself now that you won’t fight phone bans at school or activities, no matter how inconvenient it may seem at first. When you set a good example, says Longfellow, “This teaches kids to respect your phone rules too.”

5. Think About Your Own Habits

Clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, says that it’s not just parents who are upset about tech interruptions; it’s kids who hurt, too. “We as parents have to be much more mindful about … interacting with technology when our children need us …. Children of all ages — 2, 15, 18, 22 — used the same phrases to talk about how hard it is for them to get their parents’ attention when they need it: sad, angry, mad, frustrated.” By putting down your digital device, you model this habit for your kids. This means no checking your phone at mealtime, while in the car, or during family time. It may be a challenge at first, but imagine what a relief it will be to have some off-the-grid moments when no one can steal your serenity with a stressed-out email or text.

6. Go “Old School” in the Evenings

The blue light of devices is particularly bad in the two to three hours before bedtime. To help your kids get the right quantity and quality of sleep, consider reading paper books or playing board games in the evening rather than using eBooks or apps before bed. A recent study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston showed that screen activity before bed makes it harder to fall asleep. Dr. Anne-Marie Chang says, “The best recommendation (although not the most popular) would be to avoid use of light-emitting screens before bedtime.” Plus, board games improve executive function (the brain’s control of cognitive processes such as memory, reasoning, and problem-solving) and let you bond and engage with your kids. Just be sure to silence your phones first!

Give Tech-Loving Kids Another Option

If your child simply loves technology, take a look at the computer programming and coding classes available on ActivityHero! This is a great way to support your kids’ interest in electronics in a way that allows them to learn, socialize, and possibly prepare for a future career.

Categories
Camps Soccer Sports

Find the Right Soccer Camp in 3 Steps

Expert tips on choosing the best soccer camp to fit your kid’s age, skill level and overall goals.

Find kids soccer camps near me | Summer Camps at Activity Hero

Soccer is one of the most popular summer camps on ActivityHero’s marketplace. Played by over 2 million nationwide, youth soccer appeals to kids of all ages and skill levels. With both recreational and travel soccer leagues, there are many year-round opportunities for both beginner and elite players. It’s also a sport that can be introduced at an early age, with many kids soccer camps accepting those as young as 3 years old. 

The right soccer camp depends on your kid’s age and motivation. Does your kid dream of being the next Lionel Messi or Alex Morgan? Or, do you simply want a fun camp to keep your kid active when school’s out? Here are three simple steps to review in your selection process.

1. Assess Your Kid’s Age & Level of Development

From preschool to high school, soccer camps structure their programs to meet kids at various levels of development. 

The emphasis of soccer camp is to help young players foster a love of the game.

American Youth Soccer Organization
  • Ages 3-5: The focus for younger players is primarily on strengthening gross motor skills, socialization and having fun! Soccer drills for preschoolers are mostly multipurpose games to keep players active, listening and making friends.  Soccer camps for ages 3-5 offer mini sessions structured to engage short attention spans.
  • Ages 6-9: For elementary school-aged kids, soccer camps often divide players up by age and ability to maximize instruction. While some very advanced players will start to play at a competitive level, most soccer camps for ages 6-9 years old focus on team building, social skills, and technical skill development.
  • Ages 10-13: For motivated players, this is the age when soccer development is taken to the next level. Developing technique, speed of play and simulated game situations are all a priority. 
  • Ages 14+: High school soccer players will have a wide range of skill and motivation ranging from recreational to students eyeing a college soccer scholarship.

2. Know the Different Types of Soccer Camps

There are many different soccer camps available to fit your schedule and kid’s goals. with week-long programs including half-day soccer camps and full-day soccer camps. The programs are open to all players and the curriculum is developmentally appropriate for any skill level. 

If your high school player has a summer job lined up, there are specialized night training programs for intermediate to advanced soccer players aged 15-21. Some travel leagues or competitive soccer high school programs may encourage team camps, residential overnight camps or college ID soccer camps. 

There are also specialty programs such as goalkeeper camps or striker soccer clinics. These camps concentrate on developing specific skills related to your kid’s preferred playing position.

3. Learn the Benefits of Soccer, Beyond the Field

Over time, soccer generally develops into a fun, lifetime participation sport. Kids will understand the value of teamwork and respect while also developing leadership and communication skills.

“Active kids grow in self-confidence. They have the opportunity to develop an open mindset. They learn conflict resolution skills, how to both cooperate and compete with others, punctuality and responsibility. How to contribute to a group, communication skills, how to lead, how to set and achieve goals toward self-improvement are also learned. The possible life skills, as well as sport skills, that an active soccer player could benefit from is a long list.”

Sam Snow, US Youth Soccer Director of Coaching

Soccer Camp Gear

There are a few items that you will want to pack for soccer camp

  • Soccer gear: Cleats and Shin Guards. Sneakers work too. 
  • Water bottle: Your kid will be working up a sweat!
  • Packed Lunch and/or Snacks: Keep in mind that most camps will not have a refrigerator. 
  • Sunscreen: Campers are usually outside in the sun for several hours.  

Quick Tip: If you bring a soccer ball, be sure to label it with your kid’s name.

Regardless of your kid’s age or skill level, there is a soccer camp that is the right fit for your family. Discover more soccer camps on ActivityHero and download the iPhone app.  Be sure to check out special discounts may save you even more on camp.

Categories
Parenting Resources Science Science/Technology Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms Vacations

5 Kid-Friendly Podcasts for Road Trips






happy child on a road trip

Planning a summer road trip? These 5 podcasts can help keep curious kids entertained.

By Wendy Chou

Your bags are packed, the kids are strapped in, and you’ve hit the open road. As parents, we know all too well that having the right entertainment for a long car trip can make the difference between happy kids and hysterical ones. Whereas we used to have to spin the radio dial or organize our CD collections, smartphones can now fit hours of audio right in the palm of your hand. Podcasts just may be the best thing to happen to road trips since the cup holder. Best of all, more podcasts have come out that especially appeal to kids by offering engaging–and even educational–content. With topics ranging from self-empowerment to science, even adults might learn a thing or two while listening!

Start by Creating a Playlist

If you’re new to podcasts, you’ll need to use a podcast app to help you search for podcasts. Some popular podcast apps (also called Podcatchers) are Apple Podcasts and Instacast (both compatible with iOS), PocketCast (for Google Play, Android phones), and Stitcher (supports both platforms)

Now download your podcast to a smartphone or iPad. Both audio and video podcasts exist depending on your style.  

Download away! If you like a particular program, browse the archives and grab as many episodes as you want. They’re generally free. The only thing limiting you will be the amount of memory on your device.

A Few Caveats

Podcasts are free to listeners because they have regular sponsors who run advertisements. These ads can be off-putting to some. Another drawback to playing lots of podcasts is the danger of running down a phone battery, though with audio podcasts, this generally isn’t a big concern. If you’re worried, pack a spare source of power or plug into your car’s power source.

If you’re used to high-quality stereo sound, consider connecting your phone to an auxiliary input headphone jack, or (if available) even using a car’s Bluetooth capability to play your phone directly through your car’s speakers.

Make sure that you set up a playlist before you turn on the engine. To prevent dangerous distracted driving, only manipulate phones and other devices when you can do so safely!  

5 Recommended Podcasts for Kids

Slip on some headphones and test-drive these kid-approved audio podcasts.

Brains On! 

In every science-filled episode, host Molly Bloom is joined by a different kid co-host who helps interview scientists and field questions from kids across the country. It’s anything but textbook fare; there’s a good dose of silliness and fun. Recent topics have included the science of cooking, how paint sticks to things, and what causes allergies. My six-year-old loves to try to identify the “Mystery Sound” (stumpers submitted by kids across the country). Probably good for ages 6 – 13.

Dream Big 

Hosted by Eva Karpman, current 2nd-grader, who brings refreshing energy and positivity to the show. Eva is also accompanied by her mom, Olga, while interviewing special guests–astronauts, entrepreneurs, artists, authors, and more–and learning about their passions and their life journeys. The message of the show: follow your dreams and do what inspires you. Suitable for all ages.

Pants on Fire

If you like a game show format, try this. Kids try to figure out which adult is truly an expert and which adult is only pretending. Hosted by Debra Goldstein and a sidekick “robot”, there’s quite a bit of musical and sound accompaniment throughout to keep kids interested. The topics are very wide-ranging with something to appeal to everyone. As a concept, it’s smart, creative, and smoothly executed. Probably best for ages 6 – 11.

The Story Pirates

Welcome to storytelling with a zany vibe. The “pirates” are actually actors, comedians, improvisers, and musicians who share a lot of enthusiasm and humor. The stories they tell are written by actual kids who also get a moment in the show to talk about themselves. This is great catchy fun for any age (my kid was hooked after one episode), though if you’re looking for something more educational, there are others more suited to that.

Book Club for Kids 

This new addition to the podcast scene amassed a listenership of 300,000 kids in 2017. The format: a rotating panel of middle-schoolers chats with host Kitty Felde about fiction and non-fiction books. Their conversations encourage introspection, touch on current events, spark the imagination, and more. Each episode also features a celebrity guest reader. This podcast will appeal to older elementary school kids and middle graders who love to read; the website also has a list of books recommended by peers.

 

 

Need more ideas for your curious kid?  Here’s more great podcasts to try: Wow in the World, Pickle, ExtraBLURT, But Why, Ear Snacks, Smash Boom Best, Tumble. And also head over to our blog post on tips for screen-free travel with kids. Happy travels!

Looking for summer activities and camps? Activityhero.com is your all-in-one destination for updated schedules, parent reviews, and registration options.

About Wendy Chou

Wendy Chou is an environment writer and parent based in the Bay Area.