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April 21st 2016

Finding a balance between your children’s wants and your needs while piecing together a full summer schedule can be daunting, as there are hundreds of summer programs in the Seattle area to choose from. Which programs are best? Look for programs that have the following four elements, and both your needs and your child’s needs will be met.


Summer offers you the unique opportunity to design your child’s education. If there are certain after school programs or classes that your child enjoys during the school year, you can sign them up for a full-week, intensive program. Likewise, if there are activities your child has never tried but you feel will stretch and benefit them, you can introduce them to the new activity through a summer camp.

Either way, it’s important to offer your child variety. Healthy bodies create even healthier minds, so make sure the programs you select foster both. If indoor activities such as chess, drama, or art interest your child, make sure these camps include break times (preferably outdoor) where they can burn off some steam and stay active.

If your child loves running around and has a hard time sitting still, give them the opportunity to expend some energy, but also make sure to involve them in an activity that will help them gain focus and self discipline.


It’s difficult leaving your children in someone else’s care. During the school year, you are accustomed to their schedule and have developed a relationship with their teacher and school. You know you can trust that they are in good hands. However, once summer approaches, you may find yourself scrambling to find a program that gives you that same sense of security.

Ask your summer camp providers about the following to ensure your child will be in a safe environment:

Staff Safety

Ensure the program you select adequately vets their employees. Do employees undergo background checks and drug testing? How much experience do they have working with kids?

Ask whether or not staff have undergone emergency response training. Do they know how to administer CPR if needed? If your student has allergies, ensure that there is someone on site who knows how to administer an EpiPen.

Student to Staff Ratio

According to the Center of Public Education, no more than 18 students per instructor is ideal. The younger a student is, the more important the teacher to student ratio becomes.

Emergency Procedures

Does the organization have a plan in case of a fire or other emergency?


Every family’s schedule is different. Some of you are working full time and need 8-10 hours of daily childcare. Some of you are available during the day, but still want your kids involved in activities that challenge and socialize them. Find a summer camp program that fits your needs.

Oftentimes programs will have early drop-off or late pick-up programs that can help you extend the camp day if needed. Some camps also offer partial-week or half-day options for parents who work part time or stay at home. These options help you ensure that your tuition is optimized for your needs.

It’s also nice to find a program that offers lunch and snacks in case you have a busy morning and run out of time to prepare something.


Finding an activity that interests your child is only part of the puzzle. Regardless of which program you select, your child is going to be in a new environment for an entire week or more. This is plenty of time for them to pick up bad habits from peers.

Make sure the program you select emphasizes character development, healthy relationships, respect, and discipline. Inappropriate behavior should be addressed immediately. Ask your provider how they address these types of situations. Do they have a discipline procedure? The website states that programs that do the following are the most effective for promoting personal and social growth.

Effective programs should help students:

1.) Understand and manage emotions

2.) Set and achieve positive goals

3.) Feel and show empathy for others

4.) Establish and maintain positive relationships

5.) Make responsible decisions

It’s important to ensure that incidents are addressed with conversations. Putting a student in time out is not an effective way to help students learn from their mistakes.

At Chess4Life, we strive to offer this experience for all of our customers. Please feel free to ask us how we accomplish these four objectives. Wherever your kids end up, we hope they have a safe and fun summer!


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