3 Reasons to Send Your Child to Arts Summer Camp

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Summer camp is a place where children and teens are able to explore, mature, and define. Kids learn to work together with others in community and communicate thoughts and feelings in their own unique way. Arts summer camps help kids discover their voices and find vision and inspiration.

1. The Imagination Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

The imagination is an essential part of a child’s life. Girls and boys alike respond best when encouraged to dream, wish and pretend. Exercises in imagination help children develop flexible perspectives which allow them to emotionally adapt when necessary. Arts summer camps encourage children to expand and communicate their imagination. Music, visual arts, theater, crafts and other summer camp programs are specifically geared toward creating a safe, supportive, environment where kids can artistically grow.

2. Creative Exercises Help the Mind Develop

Creativity in the classroom has been proven to improve brain development, along with physical movement. The body and mind must both be engaged on a regular basis in order for kids to grow up healthy and strong. Arts summer camps provide both of these essential experiences. The time spent outdoors combined with the opportunity to creatively express ideas and thoughts via music, acting, dancing, painting, etc. makes arts summer camps the prime place for children and teens to develop healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms.

3. Self Expression Is an Important Part of Personal Growth

One of the most valuable skills a child can develop is the ability to clearly communicate. Children dealing with communication issues, such as speech impediments and dyslexia, need extra attention and help learning how to clearly articulate their needs and wants. Arts and crafts can help kids develop the skills necessary to share their ideas, thoughts and emotions. This helps them to grow up and become healthy adults. Self expression is something all humans need to develop and there are many ways to explore this aspect of one’s self. Arts summer camps give kids a variety of mediums through which to express all kinds of inner dialogues. In the future, this will allow them to continue to learn new ways of expressing and sharing themselves with others.

Sarah Benoit is a writer for, a comprehensive online directory of summer camps for boys and girls throughout the United States and Canada.

What is phonological awareness and why is this important for my child?

  • Written by Kali Glynn, MA, CCC-SLP, Bothell Pediatric and Hand Therapy
Did you know that children develop reading skills before being introduced to written language? During the past 20 years, research on reading, reading development and reading instruction has revealed that a strong understanding of spoken language is critical to the development of basic reading and writing skills.

Words in English are composed of strings of sounds called phonemes. Speakers of English can create all the words they ever need by using various combinations of 44 different speech sounds.  When we listen to another person talk, we listen to and process the information without actually being aware of the individual phonemes in words themselves. However, because phonemes are represented in written language by letters, learning to read requires that children become consciously aware of the phonemes as individual elements of words.

Phonological awareness refers to awareness of phonemes, as well as all different levels of awareness of words. This includes rhyming, awareness of syllables in words, knowledge of letter sounds and identifying individual words within a sentence. Important phonological awareness skills also include being able to segment phonemes (for example, realizing that the word “cat” contains three individual sounds) and blending phonemes (for example, when hearing the sounds  d-o-t  realizing that they can be blended into the word “dot”). More advanced phonological awareness skills would include a listener identifying the first, middle or last sound they hear in a word  (what is the first sound you hear in dog?) or manipulating sounds (if you take /s/ out of “stop,” what word is left?).

Since phonological awareness is strongly tied to beginning to read, most schools test kindergarten and first grade students in this area. Phonological awareness skills are not innate but rather learned and are a significant part of the curriculum in these grades. However, if you are concerned that your child is struggling to develop phonological awareness skills, speech-language pathologists are able to treat deficits in this area.

Four survival tips for your family vacation

  • Written by ARA

You know the old saying that the journey is just as important as reaching your destination? It can also be applied to your family vacation. Some even believe that the journey is half the fun of getting there. While you may already have a getaway destination in mind, traveling as a family presents its share of challenges for the journey ahead.

That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead to make sure your trip is a memorable voyage, rather than an endless undertaking. Preparing for vacation travel is all about using your resources, staying organized and snacking smartly.

Whether you’re traveling by car, plane or train, here are a few travel survival tips to ensure a smooth journey during your next vacation:

• Keep a snack stash. Hunger is the happy traveler’s kryptonite, as moods can go south quickly when you’re in need of a snack. The type of snacks you choose is also important, as snacks overloaded with sugar might not help you feel satisfied for long, and sugary snacks can also leave your kids with lots of energy and nowhere to burn it off. Try stocking up on healthier snacks that are convenient for on-the-go situations like Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels. They come in a wide variety of shapes and flavors, including 100-calorie packs and gluten-free varieties, offering something for everyone on board. Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzel Pieces, which range in flavor from Buffalo Ranch to the new Bacon Cheddar are an especially good option for crumb- and mess-free snacking. To learn more about the available options, visit

• Take a clean-up kit. Hand sanitizer, napkins and hand wipes can help keep everyone  and the inside of your car  clean during your trip. If you have younger children, keeping a bag with a change of clothes easily accessible can help you weather any bad spills or accidents.

• Don’t forget the fun. Car games can make the time fly by for children. If you’re driving, games like car bingo and the license plate game are fun ways to help your child discover the scenery. To combine food and fun, use pretzel bits as bingo pieces or a tasty game of tic-tac-toe. Bringing pads for doodling is never a bad idea either, and washable markers are always a good option since they won’t easily break like crayons or colored pencils might.

• Make it easy to get some shut-eye. If you have a longer trip planned, bringing smaller travel pillows and blankets to help your passengers rest when they get sleepy can help keep everyone happy. You may also want to consider sun-blocking screens that still allow the driver to see out the window although a comfortable pair of sunglasses for the little ones can also help.

• Keep travel-friendly technology handy. Smartphones and tablets make great travel companions for adults, giving you access to helpful maps, restaurant reviews and tourism sites. You can also scan the Web for travel-related games for the kids. Follow Snyder’s of Hanover on Facebook and Twitter for road trip snacking tips and look for game ideas and travel tips on the brand’s Pinterest board.

Today’s Camps Are Not the Same Old Summer Camp You Attended

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You may have attended summer camp when you were a child. And while you may have enjoyed yourself, you may have wanted something more. Today’s camps are not the same old summer camp you attended.

Years ago children would have attended summer camp and expected to enjoy a variety of activities. They would have spent some time doing arts and crafts during a specific time during the day. Later on they would have spent time swimming or canoeing. Depending upon the camp they attended, they may also have had an opportunity to ride horses. Some may have learned archery skills.

Summer camps were designed to expose children to things they may not have a chance to experience during their normal life. They also gave children an opportunity to meet people from other areas of the state or country. In many cases children were able to make friendships which lasted a lifetime.

Children attending summer camp today have opportunities you may not have had. Many camps offer focused activities for the entire time children are at camp. For instance, children who are interested in computers may be able to find summer camps which offer skills such as web design, game design, virtual camps and 3-D design.

Other types of focused content camps may be planned for children involved in particular sports. You can easily find football, basketball, golf, volleyball, gymnastics, running and other sport camps. If your child plays a sport during the school year this type of summer camp would be a great opportunity for your child to increase their skills during the off-season.

Is your child interested in the arts? You can find drama and theater arts camps. You can also find camps which are focused on playing a specific musical instrument. In fact, you might be able to find a summer camp for nearly any activity or interest your child has.

What about children who love horses? In summer camps of the past, children might be able to ride horses one or two times during a week. There are summer camps specifically designed for children who enjoy equestrian sports but they may not be offered in every state.

Do you have a child who enjoys learning or has specific educational goals? Academic and college prep summer camps may be a good choice for them. Children who are struggling in school can also benefit from educational summer camps offered by tutoring companies.

Most people who experienced summer camp as a child look back on those weeks during the summer with fondness. You want your child to have the same opportunities as you had but know that today’s summer camps aren’t the same as the old summer camp you attended. You want something different for them.

If you’re looking for a specific type of summer camp, look no further than This website offers you the ability to search for traditional as well as specialty camps. You can find which camps are available in your own state. Check it out if you’re trying to find the perfect camp for your child to attend this summer.


Game on! What games should kids play?

  • Written by ARA

Kids love video games — they’re exciting, fun and engrossing. While games can promote learning and growth, too much video gaming or playing inappropriate games,  can lead to negative consequences. What should parents know to make good game choices for their children?

Ola Gardner, a faculty member in Game Art & Design at The Art Institute of Atlanta, offers these tips when selecting games for kids:

•Become familiar with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. These ratings are designed to help potential players understand the game’s content and offer guidance on which games are appropriate for different ages.

•Explore This site provides a report card on games with detailed descriptions of game content, technical performance and kid friendliness.

•Understand the types of games on the market: edutainment (educational games focusing on teaching the player), role playing games (that offer deep story and character development), action games (that train and enhance hand-eye coordination), simulation games (building vehicles such as planes or cars) and strategy games.

•Use online reviews, ask other parents, ask the staff at your local store and play games with your kids.

It’s also important for parents to understand the different game platforms.

“Generally Nintendo (Wii and the portable 3DS system as well) is a very kid-friendly platform to purchase for younger children. The Sony PlayStation3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 have kid-friendly games to play as well, though parents need to exercise caution as some of the games released are for adults only,” says Nick Viola, a Game Art & Design faculty member at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. “The Wii and the Xbox 360 Kinect encourage families to play together and get the players off the sofa.”

Whatever the game and whatever the platform, video games for kids — like those for any age — need to be engaging.

“The interactivity of these games seems to be the crucial factor that engages kids of all ages. Exciting visuals and action are also key,” says David March, a Media Arts & Animation faculty member at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta.

And what children’s video games do these experts like best? “My favorite kids’ games are the Ratchet and Clank series and the Super Mario franchise,” says Gardner. Super Mario Brothers is a favorite of Viola’s as well. “Its bright bold colors, simplistic playing mechanics and iconic sound effects will always draw my attention,” he says. For March, favorites include “the side-scrollers like Prince of Persia - things with lots of lush graphics. And I’m a total sucker for almost any game involving flying an aircraft.”

Bottom line? Video games are here to stay. And when appropriately used, they can provide an opportunity for families to play together as well as for kids to learn and grow. To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit