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Start looking for summer programs for your kids now

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Camps, classes and activities

It’s cold outside. You’re more likely thinking of baking cookies than baking in the sun. However, right now -- when your favorite chocolate and marshmallow concoction is hot cocoa and not s’mores -- is the right time to start thinking about summer programs or camps for your kids. Summer vacation may be far away, but it’s going to be reality before you know it.

summer camp sign

As hard as it is to think about summer fun and schedules when you're wondering whether there will be a snow day tomorrow, early planning can take a lot of pressure out of the last weeks leading up to summer break. While some might consider this early planning "over-competitive," it doesn't have to be. It is making sure your kids are covered they way you want them to be, with programs you are confident that they will enjoy. It's smart planning.

Web research

First things first, use your Internet connection to search for available programs in your area. Many organizations already have plans underway or firmly in place -- just as you are thinking about filling their programs, they have to start early to staff appropriately. As such, early planning gives you an early jump on great programs.

Camp fairs

Camp fairs likely have already been planned and are scheduled for next few weeks. Seek out the fairs in your area if you are looking for a new and different experience for your child. Some camps and programs focus on various specific interests. If your child is particularly into sciences, there's a camp for her -- and a camp for your son who is into theater. Some camps are sleep-away and some are day camps. A camp fair is just the place to learn about them.

Popular options

If there's one particular program or camp you really, really want for your child, it's worth it to be the early bird. Don't be squeezed out of a terrific theater program because you just couldn't fathom summer under the two feet of snow outside. If you have to get in a deposit early to hold a spot, do it now.

Budget considerations

Think about your summer budget. Figure out how much you can afford and make sure you're putting it aside -- and know when various deposits and balances are due. If it's particularly tight fiscal year for you, planning early can help you tap into resources such as scholarship programs or financial aid packages.

Make the commitment

Once you've gone to all this trouble to plan and think, go ahead and make the commitment. Send in that deposit, hold the spot and check that item off your to do list. It will be one less thing to worry about in the busy of the end of the school year -- and you'll know you've set up a great summer experience for your child.

Planning now takes stress off the final weeks before school summer vacation. Before you know it, you'll be back to your hot cocoa and wondering about the next snow day.

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