Is an Academic Summer Camp Right for Your Child?

A picture of teens at a robotics camp

Echo / Getty Images

Academic summer camps enhance your child's love of learning while focusing on a specific academic program. If your child suffers a love loss once school lets out, a summer academic camp might be the right fit for them.

From STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) camps to robotics camps and language camps to art camps, academically focused children can find an offering that suits their particular concentration. Most academic camps are run by colleges and private schools, but there also are nationwide non-profits that hold "touring" camps at local public schools.

While the traditional outdoor summer camp seems to be most families' go-to, academic summer camps pose many benefits to growing and developing minds.

Listed below are just a few ways these camps can help kids. 

Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom

Studying in the same setting, day after day, can be monotonous. Even for children who love their school, the school setting and the same teacher-led style of learning can cause them to lose interest. Academic summer camps, on the other hand, are often project-based and sometimes student-led.

This can mean one day kids are in a classroom environment, but then the next day they're participating in an outdoor geological study or learning about plant biology at a local farm. Students are given the opportunity to work in small groups (something that may not be available to them in their current classroom setting) and apply real-life experiences to the lessons they learn.

Helping Kids Hone in on a Particular Interest

Often, academic-based camps are tailored to a particular interest. If your child gets excited about computer coding, guess what? There's a camp for that. If languages aren't offered in your child's school, but they're itching to learn French, a French camp provides an intensive way to focus on just that. And—who knows—it may even involve some exotic travel.

Students who naturally gravitate towards a certain subject in school thrive in an academic camp setting because they are learning exactly what their interests dictate.

And sure, they may come out of the coding camp and decide they never want to go into computers. But they may also develop a stronger understanding of biology by spending a week at the farm—putting them far ahead in their science class once the school year rolls back around.

Learning from Positive Role Models

Classroom teachers are great kid motivators, but sometimes children with specific interests want to be taught by the experts. Some academic summer camps are taught by professionals in their field or even by college students focusing on a certain concentration.

Learning art from a professional artist gives a child something to shoot for by providing a role model who makes a living off of their passion. College students also give a unique perspective to kids because they are closer to their age and are actively working towards a goal that the child may see in their future. 

Helping Children Overcome Learning Deficits or Disabilities

Some academic camps offer programs suited to specific disabilities or disorders. For instance, camps geared towards dyslexic kids can offer a multi-sensory approach to reading and give children a boost in reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension. In some instances, all it takes is a summer camp to dissolve a mild learning disability, if the timing is right.

Other camps are suited towards kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Many children with high-functioning ASD have high IQ's and are hyper-focused on their studies. Camps like this provide a rigid structure through which students can expand their learning, while also providing a therapeutic concentration on the development of important social and independent-living skills.

Improving Kids' Academic Performance

Now, no summer program is guaranteed to make your kids excel at school. Yet, if they come back to class excited about an intensive study camp they experienced, then chances are they will be more engaged in learning right off the bat.

In fact, camps and schools work somewhat symbiotically—one enhances the baseline learning of the other.

Plus, academic camps provide a summertime outlet that may otherwise be filled with screen time, and they position a kids' brain—just like any exercise—to critically think about and retain the information it's learned. 

By Apryl Duncan
Apryl Duncan is a stay-at-home mom and internationally-published writer with years of experience providing advice to others like her.