It is officially summer for most of us in early care and education and that frequently means an influx of school-agers to our program. Because this age group is typically not a focus of our work, we need to make sure we give some special thought and attention to our activities and environment to make sure they meet this age group’s needs.
- Books – Summer is the perfect time for children to read for enjoyment. Do you have reading material appropriate for school-agers? Check out this list of recommended summer reading for children ages 8-13 put together by Newbery award winning author Kate DiCamillo.
- Dramatic Play – Have you made materials accessible that are more appealing to elementary students like fantasy toys such as pirates and fashion dolls?
- Manipulatives – While there are some universal toys that span a large age group like unit blocks, school-agers can spend many hours building with smaller or more complicated building materials. If you have mixed age groups, be sure to have a plan for children safely playing with those materials.
- Art – What thought have you given to add to your art center that will meet an older children’s needs? Keep in mind that the attention span of school-agers is longer than toddlers and preschoolers. Allow them the opportunity to extend their projects over several days if needed.
Of course, this is just a starting point for thinking about how to keep school-agers engaged and satisfied over the summer. Be sure to make them feel special and give independence where possible so they don’t feel like they have been placed back in preschool. What are your best tips for integrating school-agers into your full-day program? Join the conversation at