(Photo: TLC Learning Center).

(Photo: TLC Learning Center).

A child’s development doesn’t stop over the summer, especially during critical years when skills like socialization, physical development and creativity are taking root.

Preschoolers aged 3 to 5 have yet to get into the routine of the typical school year, but that’s not the reason why they can’t benefit from the traditional summer camp model. During those all-important years when young children are making strides in so many developmental areas, summer camps can offer a valuable complement in many ways.

Sure, freedom and unstructured play has its value for preschoolers, but more and more, parents and developmental experts alike are seeing the value in providing children an opportunity to socialize with peers, explore the outdoors and take part in learning activities, all in a structured environment that can pave the way for future success in and out of the classroom. Parents in Boulder County have plenty of options when it comes to connecting their preschoolers with summer camp environments that cater to this unique time in a child’s life.

This includes resources through the Boulder Valley School District. BVSD’s menu of summer camp options includes a Preschool Summer Camp in Eisenhower, which is specifically geared at developing foundational skills for attendees aged 3 to 5.  Different schedule options include a camp that runs three to five days a week from Monday to Friday, and ranges from $265 to $400. According to BVSD officials, the preschool camp includes a stress on “pre-literacy and pre-math, along with outside fun, relationship building and extended creative projects. What’s more, the camp encourages preschoolers’ “natural curiosity” and stresses problem-solving skills.

The local YMCA organization (www.ymcanoco.org) offers a range of summer activities geared toward preschoolers at facilities spread across Boulder County, including Boulder, Lafayette, Johnstown and Longmont. According to Andra Coberly Webster, spokeswoman for the YMCA of Northern Colorado, programming encourages young attendees to develop skills in a way that’s both structured and free.

(Photo: TLC Learning Center).

“The YMCA of Northern Colorado offers Kindercamp at the Lafayette facility, as well as at Boulder’s Head Start at Woodlands, providing kids aged 3 to 6 with a traditional day camp experience,” she said. “Campers enjoy arts and crafts, songs and music, water games and pool time, sports and active play and so much more. The Y’s Inspire Preschools in Longmont and Johnstown offer similar summer programs.”

The TLC Learning Center (learningwithtlc.org) stresses a specific approach in its year-round approach to serving children, including those preschoolers who are looking for options during the summer months. Located in Longmont, the nonprofit early childhood education and pediatric therapy center takes a unique approach to serve the specific needs of each child, an approach that ranges from speech therapy to home sessions to curriculum specifically geared toward preschoolers.

“TLC Learning Center is a year-round, inclusive early learning and pediatric therapy center that has been serving children in Northern Colorado for 67 years,” said TLC spokeswoman Amy French Troy. “Our classrooms prepare every child for kindergarten through positive social-emotional development and a multi-sensory approach to education, creating a holistic environment that fosters school-readiness and a lifelong love of learning.”

Treehouse Learning (treehouselearning.com) in Louisville also strives to provide tailored, meaningful learning experiences to preschoolers, no matter the spot in the calendar year. Their summer programs connect young learners with a wide array of experiences, including outdoor activities and social/emotional learning experiences.

“Learning doesn’t stop at the end of the academic year, and our camps use immersive, joyful experiences that build social-emotional literacy and invite complex physical movement opportunities that support all academics,” said Treehouse Owner Amy Benson May. “Children will be gardening and growing food onsite, caring for chickens and connecting to the natural/ outdoor world around them, in addition to arts, music, STEM, movement and creative challenges to build imaginations, problem-solve and build social skills.”

Exploring Minds Academy in Erie (exploringmindsacademy.com) is dedicated to building pre-academic skills. While their summer camp programs begin for students around the age of 5, their summer options provide an ideal foundation for attendees on the cusp between open learning and the journey through a formal academic environment.

All of these options are ideal for new learners looking to create important foundations in their academic, social and creative lives, even during the summer months.

By Andy Stonehouse, Raised in the Rockies