School's out ... Now What?


by By Jeanne Faulkner /

Posted on July 17, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 12 at 1:52 PM

About the Author

Jeanne Faulkner is a freelance writer and registered nurse in Portland, Ore. Her work appears regularly in Pregnancy and Fit Pregnancy, and she has contributed articles to the Oregonian, Better Homes & Gardens, Shape and other publications.

School's out for summer. Instead of singing along (with the Alice Cooper song), many working parents are screaming, "That's three months without built-in childcare!"

Parents of preschoolers may have the easiest time. Whatever you do during the school year (nanny, day care center) usually works for summer too. If you're looking for childcare, check out the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agency for reputable providers.

School-age kids are the real troublemakers. School's kept them (and us) occupied for six hours or more a day. Worse still are tweens and teens--too old for day care, too young to be left unsupervised all day. Savvy parents plan ahead and fill their child's calendar with camps and activities. These can get expensive, though, so you might need to find creative solutions for keeping children active, safe and happy.

Go Back to School Many schools provide before- and after-school day care programs on school grounds during the school year, and then extend the hours to full-time during the summer. Check with your school district for more information.

Contact your area's community colleges to see what they offer for children. Some hold kid-friendly classes in drawing and painting, theater, photography, fashion, web design, dance and more.

Go to the Park

  • Visit the Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Department's " " website.
  • Park City's summer youth programs are listed on the   website.
  •  offers summer programs including youth sports, swimming lessons, library, trips to the zoo and aquarium camps.
  •  offers their complete catalogue of classes, activities, playgrounds and schools with summer-focus programs online, broken down into age groups.
  •  has a great summer activities guide for kids.
  •  website has wonderful options parents looking for outdoor activities.

Go to CampDay camp versus sleep-away. It's a big decision. Parents must evaluate whether their child (or the parent) is ready for a sleep-away experience. If you're worried, go for day camps that provide full-day supervision and activities for less cost.

 offers extensive resource information for choosing a summer camp programs. The   online catalogue lists dozens of sleep-away and day camps for children of all ages.

If your child is ready to "sleep-away," you'll find a wide variety of camps to choose from. Colin Higbee, M.Ed., Summer Program Director at YMCA Camp Collins in Oregon. says, "We offer camps from second grade through high school. Younger kids have different needs than older ones, and we're sensitive to that. We have experienced staff trained to help kids feel included, make connections and avoid homesickness." His advice for choosing the right camp is:

  • Make sure the camp is accredited by the  , and meets guidelines in key areas, including health and safety, program design, transportation, food service, human resources and site management.
  • Ask what percentage is returning versus new staff. Experienced staffers receive more training to help campers have safe, fun experiences.
  • Check out camp websites and read their mission statements.
  • Attend open houses and ask how staff is meeting their mission statements.
  • Ask friends for word-of-mouth recommendations.

Day camps focused on arts, sports, sciences, nature and more are offered by zoos, churches, private parties, the YMCA, and community organizations.

And check out these helpful links for day-camp information in Idaho, Utah, Washington and Oregon:


Go to Work Most employers know their staffs struggle with child care during summer, and some offer flexible and work-from-home schedules. Some even provide onsite or subsidized child care. Talk to your boss about options.

Go to FriendsTeam up and hire a nanny. Consider a co-op where parents provide a day of supervision in exchange for "work" days of their own.

Go to CollegesContact employment offices at local colleges and post on their job board. Plenty of college kids are looking for summer nanny work, and in this economy, that's probably more true than ever. Of course, choose wisely and check references thoroughly.

Go to FamilyAsk family members for support. One parent agreed to paint her mother's kitchen if she'd watch her kids for the summer. Another discovered his father was bored during retirement and welcomed providing useful services and hanging out with his grandchildren.

Give Them a JobTeenagers can babysit younger siblings and neighborhood kids, apply for summer jobs, and do volunteer work. Ask a trusted adult to check on them during the day, to keep them "on task."

Most of all, choose the option that's appropriate to your child's level of maturity. All kids are different, and one might be ready to stay home alone, hold down a job, or take care of a younger sibling, and another may not.  So make a plan, get everyone on board, and remember--September is right around the corner!