A summer enrichment program can come in any shape or size. It’s almost certain that there will be one to fit any age, budget, and interest. Choosing a great enrichment program for a child’s summer can be a matter of taste. But just like applying for a job or enrolling in college, a few simple tips can mean the difference between an ordinary or extraordinary summer.
The difference between an educational and a fun enrichment program is often a matter of cost. Some fun programs can be enrolled in for as little as $10 to $20 for 1 to 3 days. For educational enrichment programs, the cost can be considerably more. This is often due to the price of sponsorship by a college or university, hiring experienced and knowledgeable staff, and sometimes the cost of feeding and housing each applicant for the duration of the program. For example, the Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) at Stanford University costs $3275 for early summer middle school sessions. The sessions lasted two weeks and included dining and housing in Stanford dormitories, course materials, field trip expenses, and transportation between Stanford and San Francisco International Airport. Nearly all programs offer a financial aid or scholarship system for children who may need some financial assistance. Some offer discounts to returning children.
For all enrichment programs, parent should ask about the staff. Parents should know who will be supervising their children. If there will be field trips away from the program’s facility, ask about the staff to children ratio. There should be a clearly laid out plan with immediate parent notification if a child has an emergency. Especially for programs with young children, parents should ask about how the staff is selected. The staff should be hired and vetted, not simply become summer volunteers. If the child will be attending an educational program, ask about the staff’s qualifications. The staff should at least be an accredited professor or teacher. Parents should be polite but firm when asking. If the program doesn’t have the information or refuses to share it, parents should consider looking at other summer enrichment programs.
With a wide variety of possible programs, picking one suitable for a child’s age and interests is important. If it isn’t fun for the child, they’ll be less likely to want to return the next summer. Picking something too difficult can keep a child from learning very much. And having other children and teenagers of the same age group around allows a child to make friends with the same possible interests. Most educational programs offer a combination of elementary, middle school, high school, or college sessions. Fun programs usually group children of wider ages together.
When picking a summer enrichment program, parents should include the child in the entire decision process. If they are really truly interested in a topic, perhaps parents can choose a more expensive enrichment program. If the child doesn’t have a strong preference, picking a less expensive program is just as enjoyable. Some children may not want to attend an enrichment program. Letting the child be a part of the decision process can help ease some of the disappointment of giving up their summer vacation.
Choosing the right summer enrichment program can give a young child a thrilling few weeks between school years. For teenagers and young adults, it can encourage an interest in a topic or add to their college application and resume. Whether for education or fun, enrichment programs have a great deal to offer children by simply giving up only a few days or weeks of their summer.