Finding Summer Child Care: Options for Every Family

May 23, 2024

Solidify your summer child care plans, especially for your school-aged children, well before the seasons change. A plan gives peace of mind for working parents and stay-at-home caregivers alike. Learn the types of child care during summer, how to make the right choice, and how to use Wonderschool as your guide. 

Types of Summer Child Care Options

Though it can be tricky to find and secure a spot, there are a lot of summer child care options.  

Day Camps

Signing your child up for day camp is a great way to keep them engaged. This is especially important if your child is in school, because camp helps them partake in a community of peers in the summer months. It’ll also provide structure, similar to a school day. Summer camps may offer early-bird specials, and don’t forget to check out your local Parks and Recreation Department for budget-friendly choices. 

Special Interest Camps

If your child has a passion they want to explore, specialized camps are a great alternative. Some sports camps focus on swimming, soccer, tennis, and other interests. You can also find arts camps where your child could develop their theatrical talents or visual arts abilities. There’s a camp for nearly every subject under the sun, from robotics to horseback riding.

Educational Programs

If your kid is interested in a particular subject, try educational summer programs. Certain local museums, science centers, or universities usually host summer programs. These programs may have an age requirement, so you’ll want to look into that first. 

At-home Child Care Solutions

If you need in-home summer child care, there are plenty of options from nannies to co-op sharing care with other local parents.

Nannies and Babysitters

Child care during the summer can include a nanny or babysitter. This form of child care may reduce the hassle of pick-up and drop-off for summer programs. You should consider local college students or teachers on summer break looking for work. A college student studying early childhood education is an excellent resource since they already have some training and they may want additional experience.

Au Pairs

Au pairs offer child care in exchange for housing and usually an allowance. This is typically done through a cultural exchange program for young adults from other countries. If you’re interested in an au pair, you’ll go through an agency. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that au pair programs are longer than the summer because of visa legalities. This may not be the right choice if you need summer child care only. 

Shared Child Care

If you’re looking for a cost-effective in-home option, you can join a co-op or nanny-sharing agreement with a local family. This way, your child also has some social engagement with their peers. Depending on your co-op arrangement, you may have to directly provide child care at least one day a week. 

Community and Family-Based Summer Care Solutions

Turning to your community is another solution for summer child care. While summer camps and programs are great, they can be expensive. Community care keeps your children engaged socially on a budget. 

Community Programs 

A good number of community centers host summer programs for kids. If you’re involved in a religious organization like a church or synagogue, you could inquire about summer activities for kids. The same is true for your neighborhood library. Plus, check in with your digital network using Wonderschool’s Parenthoods community to ask parents about programs. 

Extended Family

If you have family in the area, see if your child’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins can help. You could even mix and match summer activities to make a well-balanced schedule. This might involve grandparents babysitting a few times a week, community programs, and other activities to fill in the gaps. Family care creates bonding opportunities for your kids with family members they might not see as much during the school year. 

In-home Child Care and Daycares

Many in-home child care programs and daycares offer summer care or summer schedules. If you have a daycare option or are looking for year-round care, inquire about summer months. You can also use the Wonderschool child care finder to view schedules and message programs/providers about summer options.

Choosing the Right Summer Care Option

Personal preference is key when determining the right summer child care for your family. You’ll want to look at your work schedule, your child’s needs, and more. 

Factors to Consider

On top of these basic factors, you should consider your child’s age and interests. If they have a particular talent they want to explore further, check out special interest camps. If these camps are too expensive, inquire about scholarships and subsidies for more exclusive programs.

Safety and Reliability 

You’ll want to consider safety when considering any child care option. For programs and nannies, this means checking accreditations and general background checks. If you’re considering on-site care, plan for an in-person visit and come prepared with questions. If swimming is involved, ask about lifeguard supervision.  

Preparing for Unexpected Changes

Schedules change, so have a contingency plan in case your summer child care doesn’t work out every once in a while. Below, you’ll learn how to prepare for hiccups. 

Backup Plans

Things happen — bad weather, a sick kid, or an unexpected cancellation. Instead of coming into the situation blind, always have a backup plan. For instance, you can have a list of alternative sitters or local drop-off care ready at a moment’s notice. You should also give work a heads up regarding your summer schedule and ask about remote opportunities so you can prioritize child care whenever necessary. 

Flexibility in Arrangements

Since plans change, remain flexible — this skill will save you time and frustration. A helpful tip is to contact camps beforehand to inquire about their cancellation policies so you know their protocol and reimbursement policies. And, again, have a list of backup options you can exercise.

Find Summer Care for Your Child Through Wonderschool

Though the summer months are a time of sunshine and days at the beach, they also bring child care uncertainties for families. Planning ahead and exploring multiple options turns this into a manageable task.

It’s never been easier to check off this task on your to-do list with Wonderschool. You can easily find accredited and well-reviewed summer programs near you using our child care finder. The highly customizable search tool lets you narrow your search even further for the perfect fit. Finding child care during summer or any other time is now made simple.  

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