Thursday June 23, 2016 



School's Out!

Tips to keep the kids busy this summer

BC Gov't caucus/Voice file photos


Dave Casey with Chilliwack Search and Rescue speaks with some kids in 2012.


his year, more than 640,000 B.C. kids are looking forward to their summer break. 

Itís an exciting time for kids, but for many working parents and caregivers, this means added pressure to find fun and safe activities for their kids to fill the longer days of summer.

Luckily for families throughout the province, local community centres and summer camps are offering opportunities for B.C. kids to make new friends while exploring nature, learning new skills and making the kind of memories that last a lifetime. As Canadaís natural playground, British Columbia offers stunning mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches and forests to explore.

With summer also comes the need to find quality child-care spaces for many families. Government has them covered with a new online Child Care Map that takes the guesswork out of the process of looking for licensed child-care spaces. BC Early Years Centres are also open throughout the province to help support families with children aged 0-6 years to access early learning, health and family services under one roof. Here are some tips to help families welcome the sunshine:

Looking for a summer program or camp experience for your child?

Summer camps and sports for kids with special needs:

  • Several B.C. organizations run specific programs for kids with special needs. Visit this site for one near you:

  • Has your child been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder? There are plenty of summer-camp opportunities for your child, and eligible families can use their autism funding to cover costs. Check out page 14 of the Parent Handbook to see if your child is eligible:

Looking for quality child care and other early years and family services?

Did you know the child-care subsidy is available through the summer?

Is your family getting the most out of your tax returns?

Are you preparing for your childís transition to kindergarten?

  • For most schools, the kindergarten registration process begins in January or February for the following September. There are plenty of other ways you can use the summer months to help ensure your child is ready to start school.

  • For example, StrongStart BC is a no-cost, early-learning drop-in program that helps prepare children for success in kindergarten. Contact your local school district to see if there is a program that offers summer hours near you:

  • You can also use community resources like libraries, parks and recreation centres to help kick-start your childís learning.

Is your child ready to stay at home alone?

  • There is no legislation or policy, federally or provincially, that dictates when a child can be left unsupervised. Because every child is different, parents must use their best judgment when deciding whether or not their child is ready to stay home alone.

  • Here are some general factors that parents should consider before leaving any child unsupervised:

    • How long will you be away? As a guideline, itís best not to leave children under the age of 13 years unsupervised for a period longer than a few hours.

    • Who will they be with, what will they be doing and is there a neighbour or other responsible adult nearby?

    • Do they have access to a phone and can you be easily reached in case of an emergency?

  • Know your child. Some children are more mature than others. Make sure your child is ready for the added responsibility.

Summer in British Columbia is a great time to explore our beautiful province and make family memories to last a lifetime. No matter what your family has planned for the season, these are just some of the many options parents have to ensure this summer gets off to a strong start.

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