By Ali Rothenberg, Rolling River Day Camp Associate Director
Hi all, Ali here! As many of you know, I am one of the Supervisors of the Skipper Division at Rolling River Day Camp. I love working with our youngest campers because we are able to impact these little humans at such a young age. If you don’t already know, I also hold a double Masters in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education. With this background, I often apply many useful techniques to assist our group and specialty counselors with positive behavior reinforcement at camp. While camp is fun, it’s also a high energy, fast paced setting that may be new to children. Therefore, it’s important to practice transitional strategies at home to encourage great attitudes at camp! As we countdown to the first day on June 28, I wanted to share some awesome techniques to help get your child ready for camp life:
Step 1: Set Rules Right Away
- Show your child that you are the “boss”
- Sit your children down and make a rule sheet for them to follow. Allow your children to participate in making the rules. Remember, they can’t follow the rules if they don’t know them!
- Let your child/ren decorate their rule sheet. Use stickers and stamps so they can make it their own
- Hang up the rule sheet in their room or in a main room in your house (i.e. kitchen)
Step 2: Create a Schedule
- Write down a written schedule or create a picture schedule for your child
- This will help with giving your child confidence by showing them what they will accomplish throughout the day. Keep in mind, a child will tantrum more often when he/she feels anxious about their next move. (i.e. I am playing with these blocks and all of a sudden my adult is taking them away.)
- Review the schedule every morning when your child wakes up and every night before your child goes to sleep.
- Most Important: A Bedtime routine should be consistent every night. This way your child has enough sleep to be successful during the day.
- If you are using a picture schedule method, put the pictures on a Velcro strip so you can remove the activity after it is finished. Or take a picture on your phone so you can utilize it on the road
Step 3: Keep Calm
- Always keep your voice at the same volume and continue to say what you are trying to communicate to your child.
- Speak to your child in short sentences. Give them the exact words you are trying to communicate – don’t beat around the bush!
- REMEMBER: Elements of Personal Communication
- 7% spoken words
- 38% voice and tone
- 55% body language
Step 4: Make it Fun!
- Provide Positive Reinforcement, not just in terms of toys and tangible objects
- Positive Reinforcement consists of high fives, a smile, positive words, secret handshake or using a magnetic reinforcement chart.
- Have a designated special toy in difficult transitional areas (dinner table, bath, car, etc.) Keep these items in their designated location so your child is excited to go to the next activity. (i.e. It’s time to go in the car and see your red truck!) Let your child choose the transitional items and they can always be switched out for new items.