Should Your Kids Do Virtual Summer Camp?

by Tatiana Feldman/Circletime CEO

If you are anything like us, you have just begun to adjust to the current “normal” and, for better or worse — and some days are definitely worse — have settled into some kind of routine around distance learning and remote work. Despite this, most of us have been hanging on by a thin thread and are near a breaking point on some aspect of this pandemic.

Enter: summer.

As much as we’ve been griping and arguing about distance learning, it is daunting to realize we won’t just move on from our crisis-related accommodations to what life once was and summer usually represents — fun, freedom and seeing our kids blossom athletically and socially.

Instead, as we reach the homestretch of the school year, we are going to be giving up the familiar faces of teachers and school friends — for many, an anchor and sense of routine — to another great unknown: virtual summer camp.

I’ll be honest, the term “virtual summer camp” makes me shudder. As I’ve been saying, Circletime is not about displacing the very important social time children should be having outdoors. It’s a complementary solution for a balanced modern lifestyle that creates more access and more convenience in our everyday lives as engaged parents of young children. We are going to offer summer programming because we realize families will need digital support to complement what’s otherwise available to them. If you have to plan a summer with limited in-person group activities, consider this breakdown:

* Circletime offerings

With those three categories as a framework, build a rough family schedule, knowing it won’t always work exactly the way you plan. This is where the lessons from distance learning and remote work should be helpful.

  1. Take into consideration the temperament of the caregivers in the house and the children’s temperament. Be honest about who you are and who your children are.
  2. Use the different types of available resources based on your needs and family structure. Be realistic about how much time your children are able to play independently or do screen time of any kind. Does your child do better at playing alone after you do an activity with them? Do they turn off the screen and play after doing a live class or having some one-on-one instruction? If so, use those as anchors for the times you need to do things without them.
  3. Can an adult in the house find blocks of time to spend outdoors and blocks of time to play indoors with your children? Put those on the schedule and build the rest around it.
  4. Do you have friends and family that can be part of your virtual care solutions with any regularity?

a) For older children who can handle “zoom” well: If you have creative adults in your circle, maybe you can take turns leading kids in activities. If you know any teachers or camp counselors from your children’s lives that are available this summer, reach out to those as well.

b) For younger children or those who don’t care for “zoom”: Think of the family members who can spend virtual one-on-one time with them. Caribu is a great resource for “active FaceTime” that is worth looking into.

While we long for better days, we would love to have your families build Circletime into your summer plans! You can count on us for educational content in both the live (synchronous) and on-demand (asynchronous) formats. Remember that our classes are designed to be a safe and convenient space for parent/child co-play or for your children to use independently.

A few other things that make Circletime unique:

  • Our live schedule runs all day so you can jump in any time that suits your needs.
  • You don’t have to keep track of any links — just log onto www.circletimefun.com and jump into a live or pre-recorded class. If you want to plan ahead for a specific class, add it to your calendar to get a reminder.
  • You can feel safe knowing that there’s no risk of “Zoombombing”. Your family can interact directly with the teacher, but our interface is designed for young children who are usually more overwhelmed by regular zoom or video conferencing.
  • You can control screen time — once a class is over, the platform shuts off unless you turn on a new class.
  • Your child can build relationships with teachers but always discover new ones, as we continue to onboard new classes.
  • Our instructors have degrees in education or are otherwise verified independent providers.

We know these are tough times for all kinds of families as our support systems remain unavailable or more limited than usual. We are here to help, so please share your thoughts on what can be most valuable to you over the summer months.

Learn, Play, Grow,

Tatiana Feldman

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